It’s Time To Stop Calling Trump’s Dangerous Plans ‘Retribution’

Last week, Donald Trump doubled down with Sean Hannity and tripled down with Dr. Phil signaling his plans to weaponize his Department of Justice to prosecute his political foes if, God forbid, he gets another stay in the White House. Greg Sargent makes a good argument that calling his agenda “revenge” or “retribution” is MAGA spin, not the truth:

Whereas Trump is being prosecuted on the basis of evidence that law enforcement gathered before asking grand juries to indict him, he is expressly declaring that he will prosecute President Biden and Democrats solely because this is what he endured, meaning explicitly that evidence will not be the initiating impulse.

Sargent goes on to point out that “revenge” and “retribution” imply that Trump is “paying back” for some kind of unjust victimization. In reality, Trump is not a victim but someone who has brought his legal problems on himself. He is a 34-times convicted felon with 54 more felony indictments pending. That’s not including the $464 million civil fraud judgment against him, as well as $91.6 million in defamation and sexual abuse verdicts arising from his behavior toward E. Jean Carroll.

So how should Trump’s treacherous threats be labeled?

First of all, Sargent argues, the media and the rest of us should make it very clear that Trump has been treated in accordance with our legal system. That is unlike his aim of undermining our legal system so as to avoid any pesky checks on his power and authoritarianism. Secondly, both Trump’s criminal cases and his threats in response should be used as proof that he is 100% unfit for the presidency.

Democrats, then, can argue: You can’t be president if you treat the law as presumptively invalid when it is applied to you and your supporters (as Trump’s pledge to pardon January 6 rioters makes explicit). You can’t be president if you openly vow to extend the fruits of our political order only to your supporters while arbitrarily designating countless other Americans a traitorous class within, one that deserves to live in fear of lawless persecution and organized political thuggery. You can’t be president if you treat the rule of law as secondary to, in the words of David French, “the destruction of your enemies.”

Trump’s exchanges with Dr. Phil and Hannity are alarming in no small part because they show how thoroughly committed he is to proving all those assertions wrong.

Hear, hear.

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