As I’ve written before, the never-ending Russia investigation thwarts congressional inquiry into the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) own meddling in the 2016 election. But political use of prosecutorial authority is also becoming a vehicle to interfere with future elections in contravention of international standards for election fairness.
In countries like Egypt and Venezuela, working for the “wrong” political campaign could lead to jail, while working for the “right” political party comes with the perk of immunity. Are similar trends beginning to take root inside the United States?
Let’s start with this question: Have you heard about the Bill and Hillary Clinton ally prosecuted for laundering campaign contributions, or paying off women to make televised allegations against Donald Trump, or paying the spouse of a senior DOJ prosecutor to use the DOJ to help smear the Republican presidential candidate then leaking to the press about it before the election?
Me neither. But Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, and Michael Flynn have all had their lives destroyed after making the mistake of helping Trump during the campaign, while their counterparts who helped Hillary have nothing to fear. With enough investigating agents and prosecutors, something can be found on many Trump campaign workers to warrant prosecution. But the one-sided selection of these defendants sends an unmistakable message to anyone thinking about participating in a political campaign on the “wrong” side.
Just imagine receiving an invitation from the Trump 2020 campaign to help out. Would you be willing to invite FBI interviews, or special counsel confiscation of your emails and review of all your tax returns and loan applications for the last 10 years? How confident are you that a motivated prosecutor with access to everything wouldn’t find something in all of those documents?
Any potential campaign worker with the talent to secure alternate employment would be a fool to expose his family and reputation to the meat grinder of political prosecutions. Thus, win, lose, or draw, the one-sided prosecution of Republicans but not Democrats chills participation in the next election. It’s hard to win an election when everyone is afraid to help you.
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Update 4:33am, September 7th, 2018:
Update 6:03am, September 7th, 2018: