KARNICK: The Trump Indictment Is Much More Than An Interesting Coincidence

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

S. T. Karnick S. T. Karnick is director of research for The Heartland Institute.
Font Size:

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.

These activities naturally undermine respect for the courts, coincidentally (or not) at a time when the left is trying to persuade the public to spurn the U.S. Supreme Court—which was until recently one of the left’s most powerful and reliable weapons.

The corruption of a nation’s justice system, vividly illustrated by the regular use of it for political dirty tricks, sends a message to everyone: you could be next, so don’t stick your head above the rampart. Trump is right to argue that the legal warfare against him is meant to send a message to his supporters, the tens of millions of Americans who have come to see their government as having been bought and paid for by powerful business and cultural interest groups.

The more prominent the individuals under attack in these law wars, the more threatening this prosecutorial and plaintiff power becomes for the public. Meanwhile, the use of prosecutorial discretion to thwart the removal of violent criminals from the streets demonstrates further the ability of government to manipulate systems to harass and destroy its enemies—and its increasing willingness to do so.

The treatment of Joe Biden has been a stark contrast to that of Trump. The media have continually and ruthlessly suppressed reports of shady dealings in which Biden has allegedly been involved, and Biden’s administration has predictably slow-walked any investigations of him and kept a tight hold on any alleged evidence against the president, most notably regarding schemes by his son Hunter from which Joe Biden may have benefitted financially and in other ways. In the first two years of his administration, a Congress with razor-thin Democrat majorities in both houses performed no oversight of Biden, and the press and media dutifully followed suit.

In addition to all that, whenever Biden did something embarrassing or some damaging information managed to leak out, it just happened that a large distraction would arise.

Like what occurred on Thursday.

Now, with a Republican majority in the House, investigations into Biden are starting to gain some ground. Time to indict Trump. What an interesting coincidence.

Public trust in government is at a historic low. The American people have watched this bizarre drama unfold, with the left exulting, the right grumbling, and the shrinking center holding fire. No one wants to risk his or her share of the prosperity America enjoys, solely for the sake of a few politicians under fire. With the growing clarity that the common people are the real target, however, it seems unlikely that this tense standoff can last much longer.

This is the lesson: no form of government, no legal system, no human system of any kind can work well when the people’s morals have been corrupted. Lesson two: every system of government eventually becomes corrupted and corrupts the people, though with some it takes longer than with others. That has clearly become the case with the United States, as the public looks on in wonder and inaction, fearing to risk their own comfort and safety, at the transformation of politics from blood sport to mutual assured destruction and our political and legal systems become a national Doomsday Machine.

This cannot last—so it won’t.

T. Karnick is a senior fellow and director of publications for The Heartland Institute, where he edits Heartland Daily News and writes the Life, Liberty, Property e-newsletter.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.