by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The very day that the Oversight Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives canceled a Contempt of Congress vote against FBI Director Christopher Wray after the latter agreed to turn over a witness file containing bribery allegations against President Joe Biden stemming back to his days as vice president of the United States, Donald Trump—former president and current poll leader among prospective 2024 GOP presidential candidates—informed the public that he has been indicted for mishandling presidential documents.
This extraordinary coincidence illustrates an important, baneful trend in American life: the use of criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits as a political weapon. With a gross profusion of federal, state, and local laws in place, many of them hundreds of pages in length and larded with ambiguities and internal and external contradictions, it is easy to find some legal breach with which to charge someone whose policies you oppose or whom you simply dislike.
This costs your enemy time, effort, and money.
It is entirely dishonorable, but politics has always been conducted less honestly than nearly any other human endeavor.
Trump spent literally his entire presidency fighting off bogus charges by contemptible charlatans in Congress, the media, and elsewhere—and some claims that might have some merit. There is no way of knowing if any of these efforts at legal warfare have any basis in truth, because the pattern of malicious use of courts and Congress to harass Trump has been so strongly established. A sensible person would find it very difficult to believe any of them, given Trump’s vindication in the biggest cases. It is easy to get a New York City jury to convict a prominent Republican in a civil case, much harder to prove it to a national audience and especially any fair-minded person.