Trump special counsel is all about political prosecution

ben weingarten
Conservative Opinion

Ben Weingarten

Federalist Senior Contributor; Claremont Institute Fellow
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Donald Trump wasted no time declaring his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election. The announcement elicited a wide range of reactions. Days later, the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to head the criminal probes into the former president’s actions surrounding the 2020 election and his alleged possession of classified documents. Straight Arrow News contributor Ben Weingarten says the Trump special counsel is all about political prosecution and threatens to undermine faith in our democracy.

This is the impact of Attorney General Merrick Garland’s appointment of Jack Smith as special counsel, which makes the prospect of the former president being charged and convicted of something, anything, more real than ever before. They really do want to “lock him up,” or at least hold that threat over his head for maximum political gain. There are many layers to the surreal, “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime” lawfare assault on Trump…all worth peeling back. 

For starters, we have the Third World nature of a president pursuing criminal charges against his predecessor and present challenger – an extension of the Third World Soviet show trial-style January 6 committee preceding it, and carried out by a law enforcement apparatus that has time and again acted, Third World-like, as the ruling class’s sword and shield. That Third Worldism in our politics has now been normalized, and institutionalized – at least when it comes to how the ruling class will take on its foes, epitomized by Trump.

Then there are the beyond dubious grounds on which the pursuit is putatively based, namely a document dispute – as even federal law enforcement has acknowledged by leak – that Trump was taking mementos back to his home in Mar-A-Lago, not that there was some nefarious plot around them…and the manner in which Trump contested the 2020 election. 

These kinds of charges have never been pursued to this degree, novel charges, against a presidential candidate before, let alone a former president before, let alone in the middle of a campaign. If our prosecutors actually acted with discretion, they would never in a million years pursue cases like these, against a Trump, and at this time.

The Republicans kicked off the 2024 presidential election a week after the midterms with the announcement that Donald Trump was running for president. Three days later, the Democrats kicked off their 2024 presidential election by appointing a special counsel to continue the political prosecution of him.

This is where “our democracy” stands today: With the ultimate anti-democratic act in the siccing of a hyper-politicized law enforcement apparatus on a candidate for elected office, on at best dubious and clearly unprecedented grounds, thereby subverting the political process by which we decide who represents us. At very minimum we have now guaranteed perpetual election interference of the president’s law enforcement arm against his arguable top challenger.

This is the impact of Attorney General Merrick Garland’s appointment of Jack Smith as special counsel, which makes the prospect of the former president being charged and convicted of something, anything, more real than ever before. They really do want to “lock him up,” or at least hold that threat over his head for maximum political gain. There are many layers to the surreal, “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime” lawfare assault on Trump…all worth peeling back. 

For starters, we have the Third World nature of a president pursuing criminal charges against his predecessor and present challenger – an extension of the Third World Soviet show trial-style January 6 committee preceding it, and carried out by a law enforcement apparatus that has time and again acted, Third World-like, as the Ruling Class’s sword and shield. That Third Worldism in our politics has now been normalized, and institutionalized – at least when it comes to how the Ruling Class will take on its foes, epitomized by Trump.

Then there are the beyond dubious grounds on which the pursuit is putatively based, namely a document dispute – as even federal law enforcement has acknowledged by leak – that Trump was taking mementos back to his home in Mar-A-Lago, not that there was some nefarious plot around them…and the manner in which Trump contested the 2020 election. 

These kinds of charges have never been pursued to this degree, novel charges, against a presidential candidate before, let alone a former president before, let alone in the middle of a campaign. If our prosecutors actually acted with discretion, they would never in a million years pursue cases like these, against a Trump, and at this time.

But as always, our institutions violate every norm, value, and principle by portraying the Bad Orange Man as a unique threat, thus holding him to a different standard than everyone before him, undermining the rule of law and our most basic principles of republican government.

Another aspect of the story is AG Garland’s artful attempt to insulate himself from an inherently hyper-political prosecution that his DOJ initiated in the first place, and that he ultimately calls the final shots on anyway – and all while the president’s son Hunter Biden faces no special counsel. Talk about a double standard. And this is to say nothing of the fact that the Biden family’s collective apparent corruption and malfeasance, influence peddling overseas with our worst adversaries, has never been probed to the extent of a Russiagate, or a Ukrainegate.

In fact, we can go back to Ukrainegate as covering up arguably the Biden family’s dealing with Ukraine. Then there’s the special counsel’s checkered record in spearheading past baseless pursuits of Republicans. His office’s pursuit at DOJ of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was so reckless that his case against him was overturned by the Supreme Court nine to nothing. This special counsel also played a role in fostering the IRS’s targeting of conservative nonprofits during the Obama Administration.

And then of course there’s the myriad ways the prosecution can and will be exploited to hobble candidate Trump, cast a cloud over the GOP primary process, stymie Congressional Republicans probing various aspects of January 6 and perhaps the FBI and DOJ themselves, and sideline those members involved in contesting the 2020 presidential election – all while distracting from the Biden Administration’s own misdeeds. 

And lastly, there’s the precedent this all sets. This prosecution is chilling. It turns America into a banana republic. We don’t criminalize the political opposition in this country. We don’t hold some individuals below the law because they represent tens of millions of deplorables and those in power can’t tolerate the threat posed by those deplorables actually being represented in Washington D.C.

Those who loathe Trump, his policy, and his people, have time and again shown they are willing to destroy the American system while claiming their foes are traitors, authoritarians, and insurrectionists. Their projection may be reaching its apex here. Should this process continue, we will be an unrecognizable country, and left to tell our children and grandchildren what America once was like.

Those blinded by Trump hatred can’t see it, but they will ultimately feel the impact of it as our institutions continue conspiring against the very republic that birthed them. In final analysis, voters should get the say on Trump, not a Justice Department that “knows better.”


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