The news that President Joe Biden’s Justice Department might soon indict and arrest former President Donald Trump over the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol should terrify all Americans, regardless of their political beliefs.
Put bluntly, if Biden’s DOJ arrests Trump, the president’s main political rival heading into the 2024 election, it will trigger a political and electoral crisis unlike any America has ever faced. It’s not too much to say that such a move would not only imperil the upcoming presidential election but the republic itself. Jailing political rivals is what happens in tinpot dictatorships like Nicaragua, where President Daniel Ortega’s political rivals often find themselves arrested and imprisoned on charges of treason.
Now it appears it could happen here. On Tuesday, Trump said he had received a letter informing him he is a target of the federal criminal investigation of Jan. 6 being led by Special Counsel Jack Smith. In a post on his social media platform, Truth Social, Trump explained he was given the letter on Sunday and that Smith gave him just four days to report to the grand jury, “which almost always means an Arrest and Indictment,” Trump wrote.
This is the second target letter Trump has received from Smith. The first one came in June, in connection with the unprecedented FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home last year over classified documents. Days later, Trump was charged with dozens of criminal counts relating to seven different federal laws governing the handling of classified material. (Recall that classified documents, some of them top secret and dating back at least six years, were also found in President Joe Biden’s garage and at his “think tank” in Washington, D.C., last November through January. Rest assured Biden will never be indicted over it.)
Trump and others have rightly denounced this as the weaponization of federal law enforcement and the criminalization of political differences. It’s also just a naked attempt to rig the 2024 election in Biden’s favor. As Tucker Carlson has said, “They’re trying to take Trump out before you can vote for him, and that should upset you more than anything that’s happened in American politics in your lifetime.”
That’s not an overstatement. If this scheme works, if Biden’s DOJ succeeds in taking Trump out ahead of 2024 on bogus charges related to Jan. 6, it’s hard to see how we can ever have a normal election again in this country, how the outcome of any future election will be seen as legitimate.
Forget about the stalwart Trump voters who claim 2020 was stolen. If Biden’s DOJ throws Trump in prison, Ortega-style, for a crime the U.S. Senate already acquitted him of, there’ll be a whole new constituency of voters who will claim, rightly, that 2024 has been preemptively stolen.
Indeed, Biden’s Justice Department under Attorney General Merrick Garland might be badly overplaying its hand here, unintentionally swelling the ranks of Americans who might not love Trump but absolutely loathe the way federal law enforcement has been deployed against him and his supporters from the moment he won office in 2016.
Between the Russia-collusion hoax, two bogus impeachments, and a litany of outrageous indictments, Trump’s enemies in Washington are earning him sympathy from ordinary American people, who can recognize injustice and abuse of power when they see it.
They can also recognize what by now is obvious. There are two standards of justice in America: one for establishment insiders like Biden and his corrupt family, and one for outsider politicians like Trump that dissent from the permanent regime in Washington and try to disrupt it.
Maybe that doesn’t matter to Biden and Garland and those in power. Maybe they feel like, after 2020, they don’t even need to be seen as legitimate by half the country in order to rule, and they’re willing to do anything to defeat Trump. But they’re kidding themselves if they think they can simply take Trump out by arresting and indicting him, and then move onward into the 2024 cycle as if everything is fine.
Their weaponization of federal law enforcement, if it continues, is going to delegitimize the 2024 election before a single ballot is cast. And at that point, we’re all going to have a huge problem on our hands.