Greenfield: The Trump Indictment Criminalizes Political Dissent

The serial indictments and investigations of former President Trump are meant to rig the 2024 presidential election, but the latest indictment is unique in rigging even its aftermath.

Previous indictments of the former president had broken all sorts of new legal ground by turning misdemeanors into felonies and deciding that the statute of limitations is just a suggestion, but the Jan 6 indictment by Democrat special counsel Jack Smith criminalizes election challenges.Or at least election challenges against Democrats. And along with that, all political dissent.The Jan 6 indictment contends that Trump’s election challenges were a crime. What does this latest indictment offer that the previous indictments did not? This one is designed to intimidate any Republicans who might seek to challenge the outcome of the 2024 presidential election.Unsatisfied with indicting the leading GOP primary candidate in order to rig the election, Democrats are criminalizing political opposition before and after the upcoming election.The indictment reads more like a Washington Post editorial with its contention that Trump was “determined to remain in power” and so “spread lies” that there had been fraud to “create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and erode public faith in the administration of the election.”If contending that a presidential election was stolen is illegal, where is Al Gore’s indictment? No Democrats have ever been charged for claiming that Bush was elected by hanging chads, for challenging his election both times in Congress, or for spreading lies and launching investigations for their false claims that Trump had been elected by the Russians, even when they did this in order to “create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger.”When Democrats spread lies about an election, they get book deals and evening slots on MSNBC, and sometimes, like Gore, they even get Oscars and Nobel peace prizes.Challenging elections has been a traditional practice going back over two centuries to the 1800 presidential election. Free nations with open elections are not afraid of election challenges and the Democrats have spent a fortune on their own election challenge efforts. The Biden campaign spent $20 million on over sixty post-election lawsuits in 2020.Smith, a longtime Democrat crony, won’t be indicting Biden or Marc Elias. Instead, he’s indicting Trump for such invented crimes as “obstructing and impeding the January 6 congressional proceeding”, a “conspiracy against the right to vote” and a conspiracy to “obstruct” the “lawful federal government function by which the results of the presidential election are collected, counted and certified by the federal government.”Describing publicly conducted election challenges as an effort to “defraud” the United States government turns 18 U.S. Code § 371 into an open-ended tool for suppressing a wide range of political dissent. Treating lobbying or any kind of advocacy as the equivalent of witness tampering weaponizes 18 U.S. Code § 1512 against virtually anyone trying to influence a function of government. Which is to say virtually everyone who is interested in politics. And finally deploying 18 U.S. Code § 241, originally designed to fight the KKK, against Trump and anyone trying to verify legitimate election results makes election fraud into a civil right.Beyond the malicious abuses of federal law to target a political opponent, Jack Smith’s indictment will create an unprecedented suppression of the political opposition that will not end with Trump or with the 2024 presidential election. Smith has done nothing less than to take sections of the law and use them to build a criminal infrastructure that can be used to outlaw most political parties and activities on a level with that of Communist China or Russia.This was the totalitarian state of affairs that Russiagate had only hinted at but that is reaching its maturity with an indictment that is not merely unconstitutional, but that seeks to replace any kind of open political system with a paranoid surveillance state that ruthlessly stamps out any threat to “democracy” by abusing existing laws to selectively target and imprison political opponents.And that is what is really at stake here.The Jan 6 indictment leans heavily on editorializing about the threat to democracy, accusing the former president of “destabilizing lies about election fraud” which “targeted a bedrock function of the federal government” while failing to actually establish why challenging federal functions ought to be a crime. If lobbying state legislators and searching for alternate electors is a crime then virtually every single president before 1900 would have been locked up. Not to mention aspiring political figures like Alexander Hamilton. And every time Democrats lose an election, they start plotting to eliminate the electoral college and have been seeking to do it through the back door using comprehensive measures like the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.Should the NPVIC and the states participating in it be treated as a criminal conspiracy against a “bedrock function of the federal government”? Jack Smith’s indictment has created a precedent.The indictment repeatedly accuses Trump and his associates of “fraud” on the presumption, self-apparent to Democrats, that Biden had won the election and therefore challenging it is fraudulent. Smith’s indictment bases its claims of fraud on his own party’s assertions, using rhetoric such as “baseless fraud claims”, “sham election investigations” and “false claims of election fraud”. All of these are the partisan opinions of the prosecutor rather than the law.And that is what the indictment comes down to. Is it illegal to disagree with Democrats? If it is, as Smith asserts in his indictment, then all forms of political opposition are also illegal.Democrats and their media contend that the indictment is apolitical when it is not only the product of political bias, but can only exist as a Democrat political document which has no relevance to a legal system independent of its biases. In a Democrat worldview, Trump was making “false claims” about an election that he lost.But, like so much of politics, that’s an opinion, not a fact.You can indict people for what they do, not for what they believe, and yet Smith obsessively hammers away at what Trump believed because without that, there’s no crime. And if there’s no crime without a belief, then there was never a crime to begin with.Smith claims that Trump knowingly made “false claims” because, among other things, the Nevada Secretary of State had posted a “Facts vs. Myths” document. According to the indictment, it’s not possible for the President of the United States and the Nevada Secretary of State to disagree and it is illegal for the former not to bow to the authority of the latter.Democrats who rejected the conclusions of Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris in 2000, who was then denounced, threatened and parodied, were not put on trial. The issue is not the relative positions, but the relative politics of Republicans and Democrats.Democrats have spent the last two generations criminalizing political dissent. Environmental activists demand that oil and gas companies face fraud charges because they “deny” global warming. Police departments face civil rights investigations when they challenge contentions of systemic racism. The Jan 6 indictment is part of a totalitarian program that rejects the idea of political dissent and the centrality of debate within the marketplace of ideas in our system.This indictment is not just about a threat to a former president, but to the Bill of Rights.If Jack Smith’s Jan 6 indictment succeeds, freedom dies and dissent becomes illegal. To disagree with leftists will no longer just lead to a loss of work or arguments on social media, but arrests, trials and prison sentences. What is at stake here is whether America will survive.

Daniel Greenfield

Daniel Greenfield is a blogger and columnist born in Israel and living in New York City. He is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and a contributing editor at Family Security Matters. Daniel's original biweekly column appears at Front Page Magazine and his blog articles regularly appear at Family Security Matters, the Jewish Press, Times of Israel, Act for America and Right Side News, as well as daily at the Canada Free Press and a number of other outlets. He has a column titled Western Front at Israel National News and his op eds have also appeared in the New York Sun, the Jewish Press and at FOX Nation. Daniel was named one of the Jewish Press' Most Worthwhile Blogs from 2006-2011 and his writing has been cited by Rush Limbaugh, Melanie Philips, Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, Judith Klinghoffer, John Podhoretz, Jeff Jacoby and Michelle Malkin, among others. Daniel's blog,, is a daily must-read.

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