American democracy won’t survive the anti-Trump witch hunt

A flag displayed at a Donald Trump reception
A flag displayed at a Donald Trump reception - Seth Herald /Reuters
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Around the world, corrupt political regimes are weaponising the courts to go after political rivals. In one country, a prosecutor is trying to persuade a court to impose a prison sentence of up to hundreds of years on a former national leader on the basis of technicalities about handling official documents. In another lawless, illiberal regime, a partisan prosecutor is using a law intended to prosecute organised crime to destroy a politician of the other party.

In a country in which the rule of law is at risk, a prosecutor and a judge seek the financial ruin of an opposition politician and his family through grotesquely exorbitant penalties for minor business malfeasance. And in a fourth country, election officials of one party have gone so far as to remove a presidential candidate of another party from the ballot.

Pakistan? Nicaragua? Russia? No. All of the examples above actually come from one country: the United States of America. Partisan Democrats have utilised the American judicial system to try to imprison or bankrupt President Joe Biden’s likely Republican contender in the 2024 election, Donald Trump.

During her successful 2018 campaign to become Attorney General of New York state, Letitia James promised those who voted for her that, if elected, she would engage in selective prosecution of Donald Trump. “I will never be afraid to challenge this illegitimate president... I will be shining a bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings and every dealing, demanding truthfulness at every turn.”

After James fulfilled her promise to Democratic voters by bringing a civil case against Trump for inflating the values of his real estate holdings, she found an ally in another elected Democratic official – Judge Arthur Engoron, an elected judge who ran as a Democrat when elected without opposition to New York’s Supreme Court 1st Judicial District in 2015.

Even though there were no complaints by any of the lenders whom Trump was alleged to have defrauded, Engoron – in a trial in which he acted as judge, jury, and financial executioner – found Trump guilty of fraud and imposed a fine of $454 million in penalties and interest.

Earlier, another jury in overwhelmingly-Democratic New York City found Trump guilty of sexually abusing E. Jean Carroll. Subsequently another jury in – guess where? New York City! – ordered him to award her an additional $83 million for defamation.

Not content with trying to ruin Trump and his family business financially, partisan elected Democrats in Manhattan are abusing the New York criminal justice system to try to convict Trump before he has a chance to defeat Joe Biden in a democratic election.

Alvin Bragg, the elected Democratic district attorney in Manhattan, has been in the news lately for allowing four of five immigrants caught on camera beating up New York police officers to be released without bail. Bragg’s permissive policy toward criminal migrants contrasts with his use of the coercive power of the state in an attempt to punish Joe Biden’s likely presidential opponent.

Next month Trump is scheduled to be tried in Manhattan on charges of falsifying business records to pay hush money in 2016 to a porn star with whom he allegedly had an affair. Normally this would be pursued as a civil charge, but the Democratic district attorney of Manhattan changed it to a criminal charge on the far-fetched theory that it constituted “election interference.”

Overseeing Trump’s trial will be Juan Merchan, an appointed judge who donated money to Democrats in 2020, including a specific donation to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. It will be difficult to get a fair hearing in New York City, where Democratic prosecutors and judges outnumber Republicans two to one.

In Georgia, Trump has been arrested and indicted on 13 charges, along with 18 additional defendants, related to his request to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffenberger to find more votes and alleged approval of a scheme to substitute alternate electors to alter the outcome of the 2020 election.

Of all the charges facing Trump, this is the most serious. But the credibility of the Georgia case has been destroyed by the decision of the prosecutor to charge Trump under the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations) Act, which is designed to punish Mafia gangsters, not politicians disputing election results.

The Fulton County (Atlanta, Georgia) prosecutor in the Georgia case is – surprise! – an elected Democrat named Fani Willis. Willis recently admitted to a romantic relationship with one of the attorneys she hired in her effort to take down Trump, Nathan Wade, going on Caribbean cruises and a trip to Napa Valley with him.

During a judicial hearing into whether she should be removed from the case for misconduct, Willis declared of Trump’s defense attorney Ashleigh Willis: “Merchant’s interests are contrary to democracy.”

If this prosecutor is to be believed, not only is Trump a “threat to democracy” but any attorney who represents him is “contrary to democracy” as well. So much for impartial justice and the rights of the accused in Joe Biden’s America.

Yet another double standard in favour of the Democratic party is evident in the outcomes of the investigations of Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Both former vice-President Biden and former President Trump have been investigated for technical violations of US espionage involving illegitimate possession and careless handling of classified documents after leaving the White House.

Special prosecutor Robert Hur found that Joe Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice-presidency when he was a private citizen” and that his actions “present serious risks to national security.” But Hur declined to prosecute Biden on the ground that the current president of the United States is too feeble to stand trial as “an elderly man with a poor memory” on whom a jury might take pity.

Contrast this with the extreme behavior of Jack Smith, the special counsel in Trump’s similar case. Smith has charged Trump with 32 counts of “willful retention of national security secrets,” each punishable by up to ten years in prison; 6 counts for obstruction of justice, each punishable by up to 20 years in prison; and two for false statements, each punishable by up to 5 years in prison, for a total of 450 years in prison. All for the same kind of minor archive-related offenses for which his Democratic presidential successor and opponent, Joe Biden, will not be charged.

Not content with overkill in the archives case, when it comes to Trump’s challenging of the results of the 2020 election Smith, Smith seeks to add an additional 40 years of maximum prison time, charging Trump with obstructing an official proceeding, conspiracy against the right to vote, and defrauding the United States.

Jack Smith has declined to charge Trump with treason. But that has not deterred Democratic election officials from using insurrection as an excuse to remove Trump from election ballots at the state level. The Colorado Supreme Court upheld the removal of Trump from the Republican primary ballot in Colorado on the grounds that Trump allegedly was ineligible for office under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution, designed following the Civil War to prevent former Confederate traitors from winning election to federal offices.

Is it a coincidence that all of the justices on the Supreme Court, including its sole Republican, were appointed by Democratic governors, and the four who voted in the majority were either Democrats or unaffiliated?

In Maine, the Secretary of State, Shenna Bellows, has removed Trump from the ballot in Maine on the same claim that Trump is an insurrectionist. She is, as you might expect, a Democrat, elected to her position by the majority-Democratic Maine state legislature.

Never mind that Trump has not been accused by any prosecutor anywhere of “insurrection,” much less convicted. Never mind that the last time Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment was used was during the hysteria of World War I – when Congress refused to seat a socialist representative accused of having given aid and comfort to Imperial Germany.

These Democratic state officials in Colorado and Maine and their mindless partisan supporters believe that Democrats can remove a candidate from the ballot of the other party, the Republican party, on the basis of an offense with which the Republican candidate has not even been charged.

Note the suspicious timing of the criminal indictments against Trump. Manhattan district attorney Alvin indicted Trump in the hush-money case in March 2023. Jack Smith indicted Trump in the documents case and the election interference case in June 2023. In August 2023, Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis indicted Trump on criminal charges.

Why the sudden cluster of criminal indictments in the spring and summer of last year – rather than, say, in 2021 or 2022?  Could it be that the timing was related to the emergence of Donald Trump as the clear front-runner in the Republican presidential primary race? Did these prosecutors hope that criminal juries would find Trump guilty of felonies and be condemned to prison before he had a chance to defeat Joe Biden in the coming election?

In the old days most Democrats and Republicans alike believed in the rule of law and fair play and the maxim that people are innocent until proven guilty. Today, many if not most Democrats see Trump – and by implication any political candidate of whom they disapprove – as an “enemy of democracy” who is not entitled to be protected by the rule of law and is to be kept off the ballot, sent to prison on dubious charges, or bankrupted by selective prosecution. While claiming to save democracy from Donald Trump, Democrats are trashing American democracy.

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