Like most Republicans I know, I just want former President Donald Trump to go away. Maybe get off social media and stick to golf and dinners at his upscale properties.
But he won’t, so OK, he can go to jail.
He’s asked for it.
House arrest would be OK, too. Or exile a la Napoleon to an offshore island. Maybe there’s a minimum-security facility where inmates grow lettuce.
The former president took sensitive national security documents and left boxes of them where bad actors could stumble upon America’s vital secrets and battle plans. He turned America’s secret plans into personal trophies.
The 37-count federal indictment charged Trump and aide Walt Nauta, poor thing, with illegally possessing national security documents and obstructing justice. Wouldn’t have happened if Trump did not think he is above the law.
As former Trump Attorney General Bill Barr told Fox News Sunday of the 49-page criminal indictment, “If even half of it is true, then he’s toast.”
When the Department of Justice sought these dark materials, Trump refused to hand them over. He lied. He pushed others to lie. And because he is no longer president and lost all claim to the country’s necessary secrets, Trump left himself open to prosecution.
On the 13th floor of a federal courthouse in downtown Miami, Trump pleaded not guilty to all of the felony charges.
My big concern is the damage Trump has wrought on the country and the Grand Old Party. His band of merry enforcers have signaled that Republicans who aren’t on board the crazy train could be primaried, even lose in a general election. After Georgia 2021 and the midterm elections, Republican losses apparently don’t bother the former president.
Other conservatives rightly descry the double standard. When special counsel Jack Smith says there is one set of laws that applies to everyone, conservatives don’t believe him. They know that one standard doesn’t really apply to President Joe Biden and his family, or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
That doesn’t mean Trump should be allowed to appropriate sensitive intelligence data.
Kudos to Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., for telling CNN, “I won’t support a convicted felon for the White House.” Buck supported Trump in 2016 and 2020, but he is a former federal prosecutor, and he at least is not going to make excuses for the scofflaw.
When Trump ran for the White House in 2016, his rallies rang with chants of “Lock her up” aimed at Clinton — even as the billionaire boasted that he could shoot somebody in the middle of Fifth Avenue and “wouldn’t lose any voters.”
On News Nation Tuesday, a supporter at a New Jersey pro-Trump gathering volunteered, “He could murder somebody, I’d still support him.”
What a country.
Debra J. Saunders is a fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership. Contact her at [email protected].
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