The Corner

Richard Nixon, Charles Manson, and Why Presidents Shouldn’t Comment on Ongoing Trials

Charles Manson talks during an interview, August 25, 1989. (Calvin Hom CP/Reuters)

“Innocent until proven guilty” is the central tenet of the American criminal justice system. Public opinion is a different matter. While judges and juries must grant the accused the presumption of innocence until proven in a court of law, ordinary citizens are free to conclude, and declare,  “that guy’s guilty as sin.” A lot of people believe O.J. Simpson committed two murders, even though a court found him not guilty. (Other figures who were acquitted in court but who remained infamous include Lizzie Borden, Fatty Arbuckle, and Casey Anthony.)

If Joe Biden was just a retired vice president, his declaration that

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