Demand grows following Trump conviction for GOP prosecutors to go after Democratic ex-presidents

 June 7, 2024

The gleeful zeal with which Democrats have defied all precedents and prosecuted former President Donald Trump, celebrated his felony conviction, and heralded his potentially impending imprisonment may soon backfire on some of those same Democrats and their revered current and former elected leaders.

There are growing calls from prominent voices on the right for Republicans to essentially flip the script and launch overtly politically motivated prosecutions of their own against Democratic rivals, including past presidents, according to the Associated Press.

The emerging attitude of vengeance was perhaps best summed up by conservative podcaster Megyn Kelly, who said of Trump's conviction, "What just happened today is a line we can’t uncross," and added, "And these Democrats will rue the day they decided to use 'lawfare' to stop a presidential candidate. I’m not talking about violence. I’m talking about tit-for-tat."

Time for GOP prosecutors to seek retribution

In an op-ed for Newsweek, Cal-Berkley law professor John Yoo and Heritage Foundation Deputy Director Cully Stimson wrote that the conviction of former President Trump by Democratic Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg meant it was now "open season on former presidents" for Republican prosecutors.

"Trump's enemies have been so busy celebrating his conviction in New York last week that they don't seem to realize what a double-edged sword they've unsheathed," they wrote. "Regardless of Trump's fate on appeal, one or more of the 2,300 elected district attorneys across the country may now feel liberated. They can now pursue former presidents, including President Biden, regardless of the merits of the case, purely for political gain or retribution."

The authors noted that they were not specifically encouraging retaliation by county prosecutors, "Rather, we are suggesting that the likelihood of other county prosecutors charging former presidents has gone from zero to some undetermined percentage. You can thank Bragg and [Georgia's Fulton County DA Fani] Willis for that. The obvious place for red county DAs to start would be the web of Biden family influence-peddling."

They outlined how Republican prosecutors could follow the lead of Congress and IRS whistleblowers to investigate Hunter and James Biden's foreign business dealings, how a Texas prosecutor could go after eventual ex-President Biden over his immigration policies and the death and destruction it has wrought, or how a "creative and ambitious prosecutor" anywhere could attempt to hang sexual assault charges on Biden for his history of inappropriately touching women and children.

"These are just a few examples of how the criminal law of a state could be twisted by an unscrupulous district attorney to go after a former president now that Bragg has sailed into uncharted and dangerous waters," Yoo and Stimson concluded. "Trump's foes can cheer all they want, but the short-term political gain Bragg and those who support him may reap from this flawed and unorthodox prosecution will potentially be dwarfed by the long-term damage to stability of the Office of the President."

Obama, Bush, the Clintons are all now potential targets for prosecution

About a week earlier, in an op-ed for National Review just before former President Trump's conviction, law professor Yoo more fully expounded upon the notion that in order to restore the prior mutual respect for law and precedent, Republicans may need to give Democrats a retributive taste of their own medicine.

After documenting the flimsiness of DA Bragg's case against Trump, Yoo wrote, "The weaker the Trump cases are, the more open the invitation is to future prosecutors of presidents of the opposite party. After this Trump trial, any city, county, or state prosecutor might be encouraged to prosecute any federal officer for conjured violations of a state’s criminal law or other patently partisan reasons."

Some of the possibilities included an "upstate New York" DA prosecuting former President Barack Obama for murdering a U.S. citizen from Buffalo with a drone strike against Al-Qaeda leaders, or how a California DA could go after former President George W. Bush for "kidnapping" a San Francisco resident who'd joined the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Also mentioned as potential prosecutions were former President Bill Clinton over his lies about the Whitewater scandal or his Oval Office affair, or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her illicit use of a secret private email server to conduct classified government business.

"Do unto others as they have done unto you"

"Repairing this breach of constitutional norms will require Republicans to follow the age-old maxim: Do unto others as they have done unto you," Yoo wrote at one point in the NR op-ed. "In order to prevent the case against Trump from assuming a permanent place in the American political system, Republicans will have to bring charges against Democratic officers, even presidents."

"Only retaliation in kind can produce the deterrence necessary to enforce a political version of mutual assured destruction; without the threat of prosecution of their own leaders, Democrats will continue to charge future Republican presidents without restraint," he wrote at another point, and ultimately concluded, "We must rely on Republicans to threaten an escalation of banana-republic politics in order to prevent actually becoming a banana republic."

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
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