This week, a Rubicon was crossed: The former president of the United States and current Republican front-runner for the presidential nomination, Donald Trump, was indicted on 37 federal felony charges relating to mishandling classified information and obstruction of justice.
Needless to say, this has never happened before—and the precedent is horrifying.
Trump himself campaigned in 2016 promising to “lock up” Hillary Clinton, but he certainly made no moves toward doing so once he entered the White House. But now, President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice has done just that. And that means that turnabout being fair play, and future elections will carry the risk that the loser may find himself or herself in the dock in retaliation.
The choice to indict Trump is particularly egregious given the fact that in 2016, Clinton wasn’t prosecuted for similar activity. Clinton, it should be remembered, held tens of thousands of emails on a private server, dozens of which were classified. James Comey, then head of the FBI, admitted that there was a good shot that foreign sources could have accessed that server.
The emails themselves were then destroyed by Clinton’s team, and her hard drive cleansed; nonetheless, months later, copies of those emails showed up on the laptop of moral derelict Anthony Weiner. Suffice it to say, Clinton undoubtedly engaged in both gross negligence in handling classified information and obstruction of justice. But Comey declined to prosecute, rewriting the law in order to reach that decision.
And then there is the Biden family. Allegations surrounding corruption within the Biden family continue to abound—and yet law enforcement seems peculiarly unconcerned with such allegations. According to Republican members of Congress, a whistleblower has now revealed that the Biden family received millions of dollars in exchange for favors done while Joe Biden was vice president. And yet President Biden continues to receive not only the benefit of the doubt, but sycophantic treatment in the press.
Americans remember the Hillary Clinton precedent and the Biden apathy as they see Trump in the dock this week. Trump certainly does.
Now, two things can be true at once: The allegations against Trump in the federal indictment are damning, if proved true. The indictment alleges not just that Trump took home classified documents—something done by public figures ranging from Biden to Mike Pence to Clinton—but that he proceeded to tell his lawyers to attest that he had turned those documents back in, all the while shifting the documents themselves around to avoid his own lawyers knowing about them; that he bragged to journalists about classified documents in his possession while acknowledging that he had not in fact declassified them; and that those documents did contain highly important national security information.
Had Clinton been indicted in 2016, there would be little doubt about Trump’s indictment.
But she wasn’t. Which means that our justice system seems to be following the famous Latin American saying: “For my friends, everything; for my enemies, the law.” And that double standard will not hold. Which, presumably, is why Trump is already pledging to prosecute the Biden family should he be reelected.
We’ve entered an ugly new phase in American political history. Trump should have known that his enemies were after him; only epic narcissism and foolishness can explain his behavior in relation to the boxes of documents that have now landed him in court.
But such concerns are now secondary. The real question is whether one set of rules will ever again be applied by federal law enforcement—or whether the cycle of tit-for-tat will now enter into full force.
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