Trump hints at transforming the DOJ into his private legal team, according to Vanity Fair

06 June 2024 1606
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Donald Trump, who perceives himself as the victim of “lawfare” by Democrats, made another threat on Tuesday to employ his government against political rivals in case he retakes the presidency. In a Newsmax interview, he hinted at an intention to imprison the “nasty, vicious people” he feels have mistreated him. “They’re as crooked as they come,” Trump said about the Democrats who he claims have unfairly brought about his historic conviction. He warned, “It’s a terrible, terrible path that they are leading us on,” adding that a similar fate “might well have to happen to them.”

Trump has previously expressed fantasies about political prosecutions, such as the infamous “lock her up!” slogan, which became a mantra for his supporters during his 2016 presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton. Despite facing potential incarceration himself, Trump currently denies ever calling for Clinton or Joe Biden to be imprisoned. In his discussion with Newsmax Tuesday, the ex-president modified this denial, attributing the “lock her up” chants to his supporters who found it amusing. However, he claimed that it would be “really bad” to follow through with such prosecution, even if it was “easy” with his Justice Department. He added that it would be a “terrible thing” if Democrats chose to pursue such actions.

For clarity, Trump was not toppled by political rivals; he was guilty of 34 felonies as decided by a jury of his peers, following the same legal protocol as any other person. Trump expressed his grievances with the jury to Newsmax, pointing out their lack of friendly expression as an indication of a biased trial. However, the claim of unfair treatment due to his political career is misguided; instead, being a former and possibly future president has resulted in some immunity. His standing trials on election subversion were postponed until after the November election. Any potential political investigations initiated by Trump would not be due to Democrats setting a “terrible precedent," but the utilization of the DOJ as his private injury law firm.

In a conversation with Glenn Beck last year, Trump was asked if he regretted not putting Clinton "behind bars." He replied, “There was no other way," citing revenge for perceived actions against him.

Trump is not the only one discussing incarcerating political rivals; Steve Bannon has said that Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan DA who tried the Trump hush-money case, would be imprisoned if Trump wins in November. Trump has also fantasized about imprisoning journalists, indicating that political figures were not his only targets.

The threat Trump poses to democracy should not be overlooked. Although the political system has withstood such challenges before, there is no assurance it would endure again. Especially as Trump surrounds himself with loyal followers who are potentially better trained and more willing to facilitate his plans. As Biden commented in a recent campaign reception, the threat Trump would pose in a second term exceeds the one from his first term. He added, “This isn't the same Trump that was elected in 2016. He’s worse.”

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