The Bottom Line ·

Democracies can weather prosecutions of former presidents

Brazil, France, Israel and others have taken legal action against ex-leaders without doing lasting damage to their political culture.

IF MONDAY'S FBI search at Donald Trump's Florida home leads to the prosecution of the former president, as supporters fear and detractors hope, then citizens of democracies everywhere might ask Americans, "What kept you?"

The US has been a laggard in an important measure of freedom: holding former leaders accountable to the law. From Brazil, France and South Africa to Israel, the Philippines and South Korea, many of the world's major democracies have tried - and frequently, convicted - former presidents and prime ministers, mostly for crimes committed, covered up or both when they were in power.

The list of those brought to justice includes such prominent figures as Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy...



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