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‘Lock him up’: Dems flirt with calls to prosecute Trump

© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Presidential candidate Kamala Harris said the Justice Department "would have no choice" but to prosecute President Donald Trump if he were to be defeated in 2020.

Get ready for a potential new 2020 presidential campaign chant: “Lock him up”

A role reversal is starting to play out, with some Democrats openly taunting President Donald Trump with threats he’ll be the one spending time behind bars after he’s out of office. And some White House hopefuls have started weighing in, teeing off on the norm-busting Trump presidency and arguing that no person should be above prosecution if the evidence is there. Yet in the process, they’re alarming law enforcement veterans across the political spectrum who see the Democrats engaging in their own version of the politicization of the country’s criminal justice system that Trump was accused of when he fanned chants of “lock her up” during his own 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton.

“Presidents aren’t supposed to suggest there be investigations or prosecutions of particular people, let alone their political rivals,” said Matt Axelrod, a former senior Obama-era Justice Department official. “President Trump has flagrantly and repeatedly violated that norm, but that doesn’t mean the norm has been obliterated.”

“It’s so un-American to prosecute your political enemies,” added Alan Dershowitz, the retired Harvard law professor, civil libertarian and occasional cable television Trump defender. “That’s what they do in banana republics.”

The issue isn’t going away, though. If Trump loses next November, he will return to private life, opening him up to criminal charges he was immune from as president. And former special counsel Robert Mueller has left a potential rap sheet in the form of a report with evidence that numerous legal experts argue constitutes criminal obstruction of justice.

So Democrats running for president are sure to be pressed on the loaded question: Will Trump face prosecution if you win?

Several candidates have already taken the plunge. In an NPR interview last week, California Sen. Kamala Harris said the Justice Department in her administration “would have no choice, and that they should” prosecute Trump if he no longer enjoys immunity from criminal indictment. Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., also offered his thoughts last week, telling The Atlantic, “To the extent that there’s an obstruction case, then yes, DOJ’s got to deal with it.”


18th June 2019

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