Judgment Days: The Trials of Pierre Maudet and Donald Trump


Two elected officials have recently been tried, Pierre Maudet in Geneva and Donald Trump in Washington D.C. Maudet, a Council of State and former mayor of Geneva, was tried for “accepting unauthorised financial perks” tied to a visit to Abu Dhabi in 2015. Trump was tried for “incitement of insurrection” for the events of January 6. While the charges against the two were as different as the settings and world media coverage, the fact that one was a trial before the Geneva Police Court with one judge deciding and the other before the U.S. Senate raises a pertinent question: What is the difference between a criminal trial and a political trial?

The U.S. trial of Donald Trump was political. The 100 Senators sitting in judgment were not asked to decide on criminal charges. (Those will have to wait for future trials.) The article of impeachment against Donald Trump was for a dereliction of his duty with no punishment envisaged except removal from office or eventual inability to stand for future office. Even if found guilty by 2/3 of the 100 senators, Trump would not go to jail.
And, indeed, the votes in the Trump trial were fundamentally along political party lines. Only seven out of 50 Republican senators voted guilty. (In the history of the four American impeachment trials, this is the most who have voted against a member of their party.) All Democrats of the House voted to impeach; all Democrats in the Senate voted guilty. A political trial was decided politically. 
The trial of Pierre Maudet is different in that: 1) He appeared before a Court of law; 2) There was one judge deciding; 3) Found guilty, he could have gone to jail although the prosecution asked for 14 months with a suspended sentence. Another words, the trial of Trump was totally political while the trial of Pierre Maudet was totally legal.
Was the trial of Pierre Maudet totally legal?
The difference between the law and politics is not black and white. In the Maudet case, it is even more difficult to distinguish since he is still a member of the Geneva executive and in the process of running for office in an election to be held March 7. One of his lawyers did argue that the charges against Maudet were politically motivated by his opponents.
The trial has become a platform for Maudet to remind the voters of all he has done for Geneva in his long career, of his devotion to public service as well as the limitations of his fellow executives who significantly reduced his official activities. Found guilty on one charge, there is no assurance that he will lose the upcoming election. 
Maudet was the only member of the Geneva Executive elected on the first round of voting in 2018 and he was a serious candidate to be a Federal Counselor in 2017. Even though he was found guilty, his loyal followers will stand by their man.
Sound familiar? As much as the lead managers from the House of Representatives presented an impressive case against President Trump, as much as he was criticized in the media, leaders of the Republican Party continue to view him as their chief and hope for his endorsement before the 2022 election. His followers – remember 75 million people voted for him in 2020 – stand by their man.
The followers of Trump and Maudet will not change their opinions. Yes, Pierre Maudet could have gone to jail. And, yes, Donald Trump could still go to jail if found guilty in subsequent criminal trials. But, to their followers, the judgments will not change their loyalty.
The difference between politics and law is not black and white. There is no total objectivity in a court of law. Pierre Maudet is an extremely popular public figure, once the bright shining light of Swiss politics. Although he has admitted fudging the truth, although he has expressed regrets for what he did, although he has been excluded from his political party, he remains a powerful political player in Geneva.
And Trump? As long as Republican leaders continue to make pilgrimages to Florida, as long as those who voted against him during the trial are being censured by the Republican Party, he remains a powerful political player in the United States. 
Will Trump remain a force within the Republican Party? Will Maudet win on March 7? Time will tell if Tammy Wynette was right when she implored women to stand by their man:
  “But if you love him you'll forgive him
    Even though he's hard to understand
    And if you love him, oh be proud of him
    'Cause after all he's just a man”


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  • Le cas de Pierre Maudet n`a rien a voir avec celui de Trump. Le crime de PM fut de ne pas se sentir obligé de penser en politicien de "droite" ou de "gauche", mais indépendamment de toute vision partisane (de parti) et avec le guide de son seul bon sens. Comme, par ailleurs, il est devenu tres populaire, les politiciens marqués a droite et a gauche ont vu en lui l`homme a abattre (politiquement). Au premier faux-pas, on a ainsi voulu exiger de lui qu`il démissione et, comme, il ne s`est pas laissé faire, le petit monde politique genevois lui a déclaré une guerre totale. Tout cela est bien triste.

  • "Le cas de Pierre Maudet n`a rien a voir avec celui de Trump. Le crime de PM fut de ne pas se sentir obligé de penser en politicien de "droite" ou de "gauche"," (Jean Jarogh)

    Une remarque d'une grande lucidité, et avec toutes les implications, les inférences et les inductions qui en découlent.

  • Si un point commun devait en être extrait, ce ne serait que le besoin d'un électorat en besoin inassouvi de l'homme fort, l'alpha

    à qui l'électeur.trice migrée est prêt.ète à déléguer tous pouvoirs à profusion - dictateurs bienvenus et pardonnés d'avance et à posteriori -
    en mix d'attentes sécuritaires d'enfance pour certains.es ayant perdu toute racines au fil de leurs immigrations, stockées dans un magma en continuum de confusion mentalo-virtuellement entretenue.

    Mes propos sont ironiques et j'y exprime ma colère. Je rappelle que Maudet n'a pas été élu à la majorité des inscrits (a récolté 38% max), qu'il a échoué à son élection au niveau Féd, et est revenu "se refaire", comme Poggia, à Genève
    - où il est si facile de tourner sa veste, et d'en changer et prétendre rhabiller un corps électoral qui n'a pas de mémoire.

  • Comparison of these two politicians could be made on the issue of emoluments - of which Trump's record is less direct but perhaps more lucrative.
    Once one considers persons in powerful positions as heroes, it's difficult to change that perception and excuses will flourish. As to how one achieves that status, it varies considerably. Some will be party loyal and others will hold firm on certain issues that can triumph over others, on which one may disagree. Image is an important factor and Trump's persona appeals to a large swathe of US population. Sorry, it's true........

    Maudet appears to have accepted an overt piece of money. Trump benefits through PACS and then charges it as expense. Or lodges visiting dignitaries at a Trump Hotel. And keeps his tax record secret.

  • Any issue with the name Trump can cause one to meander rather than focus on the question. A comparison of the tribunals is the subject and the 'trial' before the Senate of the US is a party loyalty test. Those who deviated from allegiance to their political party will pay a price. If sitting presidents could be charged in ways equal to private citizens, their term would be consumed with lawsuits. Now out of office, Trump is facing many legal charges so inflaming the public is his current recourse. It's not over.

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