TOLMAN: Why Fani Willis’ Charges Against Trump Are Completely Absurd

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Brett Tolman Contributor
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Frankenstein’s creature, cobbled together out of spare parts and hubris, was a monster.

Spare parts and hubris are exactly what went into the new indictments of former President Donald Trump handed down by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis Aug. 14. This overtly political prosecution is aimed at sidelining the leading Republican presidential candidate. This monstrous overreach must be exposed for what it is, and its author should be booted from the legal profession.

“Former President Donald Trump was indicted Monday on racketeering, conspiracy and other charges by a grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, the result of a more than two-year investigation by District Attorney Fani Willis into potential 2020 election interference in that state,” PBS reported. “Eighteen other people, including Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, were also indicted, accused of joining Trump in efforts to unlawfully change the outcome of the election.”

Willis charged Trump and his associates under RICO — racketeering, influence and corrupt organizations — laws intended to prosecute the Mafia, drug cartels and other complex criminal enterprises. The facts don’t fit RICO charges, yet Willis is bastardizing the statutes in order to turn a tool for use against gangs into a weapon against political opponents.

This is a travesty and an abuse of power — prosecuting a lawful election challenge under the lens of criminal law.

“Trump and the other defendants charged in this indictment refused to accept that Trump lost, and they knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump,” Willis said in Monday’s press conference.

Many in the media have spent time libsplaining the indictments — with a big emphasis on why Georgia election denier Stacey Abrams’ case is different — and how it’s about actions, not free speech.

But what are the actions? I’ve read through the indictments, and as a former federal prosecutor who has jailed gangsters, gang members and sicarios under RICO statutes, all I see in this are the normal, mundane actions of attorneys objecting to how an election was conducted. RICO charges depend on overt acts, in furtherance of a criminal enterprise. What’s the criminal enterprise here?

Even Reuters acknowledges as much: “Some of those acts — including Trump’s social media posts and meetings with elected officials — are not inherently criminal.”

In a typical conspiracy charge, it’s a gang associate, for example, who drives a vehicle with methamphetamine in the trunk from Point A to Point B — an illegal action, in furtherance of a bigger illegal conspiracy. But in the Trump indictments, there’s no illegal conspiracy — just a not-unusual election challenge, right out in the open.

Still, I wonder if Willis is concerned about the quality of the indictments at all. Is this even about seeking the truth and prosecuting law-breakers? I suspect not. Just look at Willis’ proposed timeline. She claims to want to go to trial within six months. But a RICO indictment is a complicated and time-consuming enterprise. With so many defendants, each raising their own pretrial issues, there’s simply no way a case like this could be resolved that quickly.

Clearly, this isn’t about Trump — it’s about Fani Willis and her future in progressive politics. She wanted her Alvin Bragg moment; she got it.

The cost? Just the integrity of the Fulton County justice system and the chilling effect of political prosecutions for those who challenge Democrats’ power.

Brett Tolman is the executive director of Right On Crime and a former U.S. attorney.

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