WASHINGTON – Roughly 1.4 million supporters attended Donald Trump’s campaign rallies in 2016. An untold number – but most, at some point – chanted “Lock her up!” at some point.
Most genuinely believed that Hillary Clinton deserved prison, an observation based on notebooks worth of interviews.
“No one is above the law!”
That was the more high-brow battle cry of congressional Republicans as Trump stirred rally-goers against Clinton, whose purported crimes were never clear – corruption, generally.
The deaths of US personnel in Benghazi, maybe. Most specifically, that she mishandled classified documents as Secretary of State by using a personal email and server – ironically close to what prompted this week’s FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago, and a fresh round of “witch hunt!” complaints from Trump.
Innocent until proven guilty is a core constitutional value. Trump deserves that presumption as the FBI probes whether he violated the Presidential Records Act. But the presumption is about rights in the eyes of the law, and about jurors keeping an open mind. It doesn’t mean a suspect is actually innocent.
“If they can do this to a former president, they can do this to me or you.”
That’s another popular talking point this week in conservative media.
Let’s ponder that.
The allegation is that Trump violated the Presidential Records Act.
That’s a pretty esoteric law.
If you’re reading this and it applies to you, your name is probably George W. Bush.
The rest of us can pretty much breathe easy about having our mansion raided by the FBI in search of evidence that we mishandled post-presidential documents that should have been turned over to the National Archives.
Presidents cannot commit crimes with impunity. They’re not immune from prosecution, or investigation, or even civil litigation.
Recall that Bill Clinton’s impeachment hung on a deposition given during his presidency, in a lawsuit.
Republicans have cried “banana republic” since FBI agents entered Mar-a-Lago and executed a search warrant authorized by a federal judge Mar-a-Lago searching for evidence.
The Justice Department has been weaponized, they claim, warning that retribution is coming when Republicans control of Congress.
“No one is above the law.”
Either you believe that, or you don’t.