Trump’s ‘banana republic’ conviction won’t be Democrats’ last — unless there is ‘retaliation in kind’: UC Berkeley law prof

News & Politics

UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo made clear this week that
President Donald Trump’s conviction before a Democratic judge in a Democratic enclave on charges brought by a Democratic prosecutor effectively obliterates any remaining pretense that the justice system is a means for resolution and restitution. The courtroom is now instead apparently a vehicle for seeking retribution and political advantage.

With this transformation, Yoo says its high time for “retaliation in kind” by Republican district attorneys.

Ahead of
President Donald Trump’s conviction, Yoo noted in National Review that it was abundantly clear the hush-money case was built around “farcical charges” and aimed not at delivering justice but at protecting a decrepit Democratic president from facing his top competitor in November.

“The superficiality of the facts and the vagueness of the crimes magnify the harm that Democrats have inflicted on our political norms,” wrote the former deputy assistant attorney general. “Make no mistake, Democrats have crossed a constitutional Rubicon.”

Yoo issued a note of caution: The “weakness of the case against Trump lowers the bar for prosecuting future presidents below that for prosecuting garden-variety criminals in New York City.”

‘Republicans will have to bring charges against Democratic officers, even presidents.’

“Regardless of the trial’s outcome, its consequences will have a profound effect on the presidency. The weaker the Trump cases are, the more open the invitation is to future prosecutors of presidents of the opposite party,” wrote Yoo. “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.”

To remedy “this breach of constitutional norms,” Yoo indicated that Republicans’ only recourse is to observe the Golden rule: “Do unto others as they have done unto you. 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.”

For instance, a Republican district attorney will have to do the work the Biden Department of Justice appears unwilling or at the very least incapable of doing: Hold Hunter Biden to account for one of his various alleged crimes.

“Another Republican DA will have to investigate Joe Biden for influence-peddling at the behest of a son who received payoffs from abroad,” continued Yoo. “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.”

“We must rely on Republicans to threaten an escalation of banana-republic politics in order to prevent actually becoming a banana republic,” concluded Yoo.

Early in its critique of Yoo’s argument, New York magazine admitted that “the Alvin Bragg prosecution is weak. That’s not to say Trump is innocent, but that it’s a borderline case that did not need to be charged.”

Time will tell whether Republican district attorneys will rise to the challenge. In the meantime, several Republican lawmakers in the U.S. Senate have indicated that bipartisanship under the current regime is over.

Republican Sens. Michael S. Lee (Utah), J.D. Vance (Ohio), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.), Eric Schmitt (Mo.), Rick Scott (Fla.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Roger Marshall (Kan.), and Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) issued a statement Friday,
noting, “The White House has made a mockery of the rule of law and fundamentally altered our politics in un-American ways. As a Senate Republican conference, we are unwilling to aid and abet this White House in its project to tear this country apart.”

“To this end, we will not 1) allow any increase to non-security related funding for this administration, or any appropriations bill which funds partisan lawfare; 2) vote to confirm this administration’s political and judicial appointees; and 3) allow expedited consideration and passage of Democrat legislation or authorities that are not directly relevant to the safety of the American people,” said the statement.

The original eight invited other senators to join them in taking a stand in the wake of the unprecedented conviction of Biden’s political opponent.

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