The media and Democrats lambasted President Donald Trump for his supporters’ chants of “lock her up” during the 2016 presidential election, but in 2020 it is Democrats who are warming to the idea of prosecuting Trump after the election.
While Biden himself told NPR that prosecuting Trump would be “probably … not very good for Democracy,” he said he would not interfere with the Justice Department’s judgement of whether a prosecution was necessary.
Other prominent Democrats — including Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris — have called for prosecuting Trump after the election in no uncertain terms. The media reaction to these calls, however, bears no resemblance to the response to chants of “lock her up” in 2016.
Biden’s newly-declared running mate said in June 2019 that she expected herself and any of her fellow candidates to prosecute Trump on charges of obstruction of justice in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation if elected.
“I believe that [my fellow candidates] would have no choice and that they should, yes,” Harris said at the time. “Everyone should be held accountable, and the president is not above the law.”
“I do believe that we should believe Bob Mueller when he tells us essentially that the only reason an indictment was not returned is because of a memo in the Department of Justice that suggests you cannot indict a sitting president. But I’ve seen prosecution of cases on much less evidence,” she added.
The Biden campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether Harris still believes the DOJ should prosecute Trump. (RELATED: ‘Very Strange’: Trump Slams Biden And Harris For Nixing Questions — And Reporters For Letting Them)
Harris is not alone in thinking Trump should face charges, however. Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren called for prosecuting not only Trump but his entire administration. The campaign website for her now-defunct presidential campaign still calls for establishing “a Justice Department Task Force to investigate corruption during the Trump administration and to hold government officials accountable for illegal activity.”
“Donald Trump has run the most corrupt administration in history,” the site reads. “He was impeached for withholding foreign aid in an effort to try to benefit his re-election campaign. He has enriched himself and his business through the power of his office. And there are public reports of potentially illegal corruption in every corner of his administration.”
Eric Holder, the former attorney general under President Barack Obama, has also called for the next administration to prosecute members of Trump’s administration. When a cable news personality asked on Twitter who would be prosecuting Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for allegedly “obstructing mail,” he responded “the next, real, Justice Department.”
The next, real, Justice Department.
— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) August 15, 2020
House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi was more blunt in June 2019: ““I don’t want to see him impeached; I want to see him in prison,” she told her follow Democrats in a Capitol Hill meeting, according to Politico.
In 2016, calls among Trump supporters for prosecuting Hillary Clinton were met with heavy criticism. CNN host Christiane Amanpour called the “lock her up” chant “dangerous” and “hate speech” in 2019, going so far as to ask ex-FBI Director James Comey whether he wished he’d taken action to censor the chants.
“Of course, ‘lock her up’ was a feature of the 2016 Trump campaign,” Amanpour said. “Do you in retrospect wish that people like yourself, the FBI, I mean, the people in charge of law and order, had shut down that language — that it was dangerous potentially, that it could’ve created violence, that it’s kind of hate speech. Should that have been allowed?”
New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg — who just published an op-ed calling for Trump to be prosecuted after the election — described “lock her up” chants as the “baying bloodlust” of Trump supporters in 2016.
“American presidential campaigns are not typically built around the dream of jailing the opposing candidate,” she wrote at the time.
In her Thursday article calling for Trump to be jailed, she argued that “Restoring the rule of law is not the same as ‘lock her up.'”
“After four years of ever-escalating corruption and abuses of power, the United States cannot simply snap back to being the country it once was if Trump is forced to vacate the White House in January,” she wrote. “If Biden is elected, Democrats must force a reckoning over what Trump has done to America.”