In this year’s presidential contest, voters shopping for a crook have a lot of choices. Finally, though, one of the candidates has actually been charged with a crime. Not for fraud or tax law violations or mishandling of classified information or treason, though: For trespassing and vandalism. And it’s terrible news for Donald Trump.
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who is accused of spray-painting equipment Tuesday at a Dakota Access Pipeline work site, will face charges for her action, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said in a press conference.
Stein was part of a group of 150 to 200 people who protested at the construction site, where two protesters attached themselves to bulldozers and some construction equipment reportedly was vandalized.
Though no arrests were made as a result of Tuesday’s actions, Kirchmeier said the sheriff’s department is “working up the information through the state’s attorney’s office to pursue charges (against Stein).” One possible charge could be for trespassing and another for vandalism, though it’s not yet known whether these would be felony or misdemeanor charges.
What this is all about: A four-state pipeline, starting in North Dakota and continuing on from there, is under construction and the Standing Rock Sioux tribe out of North Dakota is angry about it—apparently because while it doesn’t cross their land, it crosses land they feel they were screwed out of via a treaty signed a long time ago. They say that land is home to sites of cultural significance to them, though that doesn’t seem to be the conclusion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who signed off on the project, or the State Historical Society of North Dakota, or the company building the pipeline, or advocates of it other than that company.
But protests against the pipeline seem to have been taken over by greenie types like Stein (Earthjustice is representing the opposition to the pipeline in court) and lefty Hollywood celebrities like Susan Sarandon. Protests of the pipeline have gotten violent, there are other instances of equipment vandalism reported, restraining orders slapped on protestors and so on. Enter Stein to do her part, which you can see on video right here.
Why is this bad for Trump? Put simply, he’s been banking on Stein having outsized popular appeal to pull votes away from Hillary Clinton, probably from certain people who supported Bernie Sanders in the primary but like much of the country loathe, fear and do not trust Clinton. That looks less likely to happen now: Peacefully protesting anything fossil fuel-related is one thing; engaging in vandalism of pricey property owned by your opponents on camera is another. At the end of the day, this undercuts a narrative that Clinton is a crook, but Stein is clean (albeit totally kooky; note her apparent pro-Assange comments on CNN waving away allegations of rape as simple unwarranted interference in some guy’s bedroom activities and her anti–vaxxer statements).
2016 is turning out to be quite the year: We have four candidates out of five who could end up wearing orange jumpsuits (albeit in one case, that’s unlikely given increasing support for marijuana decriminalization and reluctance of governments to send pot smokers to jail). One of them apparently might be going to the big house pretty imminently, depending on exactly how the Morton County sheriff’s department handles this.
Usually the phrase “vote for the crook, it’s important” is pretty self-explanatory. This year it requires further narrowing down.