Democrats and most of the legacy media are elated at the indictment of Donald Trump on charges relating to the possession of classified material. They should moderate their glee. Politically motivated prosecutions often don’t go as intended.
The indictment of former president Donald Trump on charges relating to the possession of classified documents was met with glee by the media and Democrats.
Democrats didn’t bother to even maintain the pretense that the prosecution had nothing to do with their political objectives. Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) celebrated saying the indictment is “one of many steps” toward eliminating Trump. Cori Bush (D-MO) tweeted out a canned clip of women furiously applauding.
MSNBC expressed their “excitement” at the indictment and as upfront in their hopes that the indictment would serve the political goal of taking Trump out of the 2024 race.
However, Americans see the charges as politically motivated. According to an ABC New/Ipsos poll, 47 percent of American adults see the charges as politically motivated. Only 37 percent think that the Biden DOJ is operating on the level.
Democrats and the media should temper their glee. Political prosecutions often don’t go the way that their backers hope that they do.
The most notable case of politically motivated prosecutions was the 1936-1938 show trials in the Soviet Union. The trials were directed at members of the regime accused of being Trotskyists and members of the Right Opposition.
Those put on trial included Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamanev. Zinoviev and Kamenev, along with Stalin, were the leaders of the Soviet Union following the debilitation and death of Lenin. Zinoviev and Kamenev were on the wrong side of a power struggle with Stalin over the policy of Socialism in One County.
Defendants in the Moscow trials were accused of trying to assassinate Stalin and restore capitalism in the Soviet Union. As documented by Stephen Kotkin and other scholars, the charges were preposterous.
All defendants were found guilty and shot by the NKVD.
Despite the obviously political nature of the trials, many left-wing “intellectuals” in the United States approved of the trials and their outcome. In 1938, 150 Americans leftist supporters of the Soviet Union issued “A Statement by American Progressives” in support of the Moscow Show Trials. Among the signers were playwright Lillian Hellman and poet Langston Hughes. Hellman never recounted her support for the trials.
However, there was considerable blowback in the West. The New York Times wrote: “It is as if twenty years after Yorktown somebody in power at Washington found it necessary for the safety of the State to send to the scaffold Thomas Jefferson, Madison, John Adams, Hamilton, Jay and most of their associates. The charge against them would be that they conspired to hand over the United States to George III.”
The trials also fractured support for the Soviet Union in the west. Communist party leaders in most western countries denounced the Moscow show trials and led many to break with Stalinism.
Politically motivated prosecutions are problematic. There are a lot of unknowns as to how a trial involving former president Trump would go. The case may satisfy the Democrat’s political goals, variously defied as keeping Trump off the ballot or, the opposite, ensuring that Republican anger will increase support for the former president.
Th indictment sets in motion a process the outcome of which is hard to predict.
The run up to the trial and courtroom proceedings would provide Mr. Trump with a platform to make his case.
The clear disparities between the treatment of Donald Trump on one hand and Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden regarding similar acts calls into question the integrity of the Justice Department.
Finally, the indictment make America look like a banana republic in the eyes of the world. It opens up America to criticism by foreign leaders, such as Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who previously labeled Alvin Bragg’s charged against Trump as political.