Salvo 06.09.2023 5 minutes

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U.S. Attorney General Garland Delivers A Statement At Department Of Justice

The federal indictment of Donald Trump over secretarial matters is meretricious.

The news that former president Trump has been indicted on federal criminal charges related to his alleged mishandling of documents after leaving office marks a new milestone in America’s depressing descent to politics in the style of Peru or Turkey, where departed presidents and political opponents are put in prison as a matter of routine.  

The regime appears to be so besotted with Trump-hate that it is desperate to fling charges and indictments at him, for virtually anything. Following two inane and failed impeachments—the first one of which was so obscure it is hard to find anyone who can even remember the charges, much less describe them lucidly; the second of which occurred after he left office and covered events he was not present at and which he discouraged—we have been treated to a “flood the zone” legal harassment campaign unrivaled in American history. Trump’s enemies—comprising more or less the entire federal government and its many penumbras; the media; academia; most of the corporate world; and a large portion of his own political party—have concocted a series of criminal and civil allegations so absurd that even the prosecutors bringing them have trouble containing their smirks. 

Tish James, the feckless attorney general of New York, threw the weight of the most powerful state office in the country against Trump and his businesses, managing only to convict his accountant of having not reported some corporate perks as taxable income. This is normally a civil matter, and almost never prosecuted at the state level, but the executive in question was actually sent to jail.  

New York State then passed a law giving adults who were sexually assaulted at any time in the past a one-year window to sue their assailants. This law was specifically targeted at Donald Trump, as its sponsors boasted. Roberta Kaplan, a powerful Democrat lawyer (who, incidentally, helped to defame Andrew Cuomo’s accusers) enlisted E. Jean Carroll, a former advice columnist, to swear that Trump had raped her in Bergdorf Goodman at some point in the nineties. When Trump denied having met Carroll, and derided her claims, she sued him for defamation, too. Manhattan juries found for her in both cases. 

The district attorney of Manhattan, Alvin Bragg, has indicted Trump on criminal charges of falsifying corporate records for recording his payment of extortion money to a porn star as a legal expense, rather than as a campaign contribution, though indeed the payment was made through his lawyer. Because the corporate records in question were those of the privately held Trump Organization, this charge is tantamount to writing a check made out to CASH and filling in the “Memo” line incorrectly. Even the New York Times had trouble making it sound like the charges were worth making. 

The Democrat DA of Fulton County is evidently trying to put together a RICO-conspiracy case against Trump for encouraging the secretary of state of Georgia to “find” more votes for him following the 2020 election. In the new electoral environment, where it often takes weeks for votes to be counted as tens of thousands of mail-in ballots trickle into the polling places, Trump’s request sounds prudent and reasonable. But we are now in a political climate where selective quotation, innuendo, and dark glances from CNN anchors mean more than actual circumstances. 

The federal indictment over the allegedly purloined documents is the stupidest of all the investigations against Trump, and thus, in this Swiftian atmosphere, the most serious. Trump’s office was engaged in what appears to have been a normal and routine back-and-forth with the National Archives over the disposition of some of the papers he took with him upon leaving office. The FBI, apparently under the direction of Attorney General and denied Supreme Court appointee Merrick Garland, staged a raid on Trump’s residence, seizing the documents in question. The FBI leaked photos of empty folders marked CLASSIFIED and TOP SECRET. Television commentators expressed anxiety about whether the absence of documents from the folders indicated that Trump had already sold their contents to Russia. 

Soon after, it emerged that President Biden had stored boxes of government-owned documents in his garage. The same special prosecutor investigating Trump promised to look into the question of Biden’s documents, too—though there was no raid on his house, and media reports indicate that there is no rush to resolve the case, certainly not before November, 2024, anyway. Some observers with especially long historical memories may recall that a former secretary of state who ran for president in 2016 had an issue with a private server in her house that maintained highly sensitive information, which was later determined to have been illegal, but not worthy of prosecution.  

We are deep in Lavrentiy Beria land, now, the province of Stalin’s top cop, who supposedly remarked, “Show me the man and I will show you the crime.” America is no longer governed by even the pretense of the rule of law. The assault on Trump may be designed to neutralize him as an electoral force in 2024, or in some extraordinary way it may even be designed to solidify him as the besieged leader of a fractured Republican Party and elevate him as a martyr in the eyes of his deplorable legions. Either way, it is clear that American history has been split—between republic and tyranny—and we are somewhere in time near the cleft. 

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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