A hallmark of banana republics is that those who lose power are apt to wind up in prison, or on the wrong end of a firing squad. Even more advanced countries, like Israel, sometimes have a regrettable tendency to prosecute former political leaders.
It is hard to think of anything more destructive to a democracy, and yet the Democrats are going down that path. It seems clear that they intend to bring criminal charges against President Trump over his keeping some White House documents at Mar-a-Lago–a trivial offense, as far as anyone knows.
And that’s not all. The Department of Justice has issued subpoenas to a large number of people who were associated in some way with the Trump campaign or administration. They generally seek information about efforts to challenge the reported election results in several states. A copy of one of the subpoenas, with the name of the person who was served redacted, is linked below. Take a look at the scope of the documents the subject of the subpoena is required to produce:
Nearly all of the documents relate to activities that are plainly lawful. Alleging or denying the existence of fraud in the 2020 election, offering evidence of such fraud or the absence of such fraud, planning to have someone serve as a Trump elector, arguing that the vice president has important constitutional powers in the context of certifying a presidential election, discussing strategies whereby Donald Trump might be found, legally, to have won the 2020 election–these are all legal activities that have long been engaged in by members of both parties.
There are also requests relating to the funding of efforts to contest the 2020 election and for the rally that occurred on January 6, 2021. These, too, were perfectly legal activities.
On top of those subject matter categories, there are requests for copies of all communications with around 100 persons, a few of whom are my friends. Others are current or recently retired Republican politicians. In addition to these documents, the subpoena’s recipients may be called for testimony.
The documents are to be presented to a D.C. grand jury that “is conducting an investigation of possible violations of federal criminal laws.” What violations are those? Almost all of the evidence called for by the subpoena relates to plainly legal post-elections activities. Are the Democrats trying to criminalize criticism of loose voting practices, or questioning the accuracy of official voting results (as long as a Democrat was declared the winner)? It certainly looks that way.
Then we have the case of Gavin Newsom, who has called for a Department of Justice investigation into Governor DeSantis’s shipment of 50 illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, which Newsom deems “illegal” for no particular reason. The real offense, no doubt, is punking the Democratic Party. Ironically, there unquestionably is illegality here: the illegality of 50 aliens crossing the border in violation of our immigration laws. But that actual illegality is not what Newsom is concerned with.
And then there is Texas Sheriff Javier Salazar, who announced that he is opening a criminal investigation into the transport of illegals to Martha’s Vineyard. The alleged crime? Who knows?
Salazar said it was not clear whether any laws had been broken, but he said that 48 migrants appeared to have been “lured under false pretenses” into staying at a hotel for a couple of days before they were flown to Florida and Martha’s Vineyard.
Salazar said his office’s organized crime investigators would handle the investigation.
So far, of course, no criminal investigations have been launched into Joe Biden’s shipping of illegal aliens to many points across the country, often in the dead of night, for the last year and a half.
More examples could be multiplied. Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon likely will go to jail for contempt of Congress, the same offense that former Attorney General Eric Holder was held to have committed by a bipartisan 255–67 vote of the House of Representatives. But unlike Bannon, Holder was not prosecuted. He now makes millions as a partner in a prominent Washington, D.C. law firm.
Given the thorough corruption of the Department of Justice under Merrick Garland, there is a reasonable possibility that the Democrats will move to imprison both Donald Trump and other prominent Republicans. I suppose they think they are secure, because Republicans would never follow such a third-world precedent when they regain power. I don’t know about that. In any event, there is a more fundamental question: are the Democrats trying to trigger a civil war, as they did in 1861? Judging from their actions, I think the question must be taken seriously.