In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well underway. Trump is weaponizing the federal government for his political benefit. Calls for prosecution and arrest are an ominous step.
Four years ago, Benjamin Wittes wrote:
Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman at NYT:
The soft spot, the least tyrant-proof part of the government, is the U.S. Department of Justice and the larger law enforcement and regulatory apparatus of the United States government. The first reason you should fear a Donald Trump presidency is what he would do to the ordinary enforcement functions of the federal government, not the most extraordinary ones.
President Trump berated his own cabinet officers on Thursday for not prosecuting or implicating his political enemies, lashing out even as he announced that he hoped to return to the campaign trail on Saturday just nine days after he tested positive for the coronavirus.
In his first extended public comments since learning he had the virus last week, Mr. Trump went on the offensive not only against his challenger, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., but the Democratic running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, whom he called “a monster” and a “communist.” He balked at participating in his debate next Thursday with Mr. Biden if held remotely as the organizers decided to do out of health concerns.
The president castigated his own team, declaring that Attorney General William P. Barr would go down in history “as a very sad, sad situation” if he did not indict Democrats like Mr. Biden and former President Barack Obama. He complained that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had not released Hillary Clinton’s emails, saying, “I’m not happy about him for that reason.” And he targeted Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director. “He’s been disappointing,” Mr. Trump said.
“Unless Bill Barr indicts these people for crimes, the greatest political crime in the history of our country, then we’re going to get little satisfaction unless I win and we’ll just have to go, because I won’t forget it,” Mr. Trump said, referring to the investigation into his 2016 campaign ties with Russia. “But these people should be indicted. This was the greatest political crime in the history of our country, and that includes Obama and it includes Biden.”
Mr. Trump has often argued that his political antagonists should be prosecuted, but in this case, he went further by indicating that he had directly pressured Mr. Barr to indict without waiting for more evidence. “He’s got all the information he needs,” the president said. “They want to get more, more, more, they keep getting more. I said, ‘You don’t need any more.’”
The president was all over the map in his two Fox phone calls, throwing out unsubstantiated or discredited accusations, explaining that he wanted to bring home troops from Afghanistan to be ready to fight China or Russia if necessary and calling Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan “the lockup queen” even as his own Justice Department was announcing the existence of an anti-government group’s plot to kidnap her.
Comey is a disaster who cheated and lied. How do you write books when you can’t remember anything? Should be tried for treason. This is ridiculous! https://t.co/Xc6OiM4dcJ— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 1, 2020
Wow!!! NOW DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS, THE BIGGEST OF ALL POLITICAL SCANDALS (IN HISTORY)!!! BIDEN, OBAMA AND CROOKED HILLARY LED THIS TREASONOUS PLOT!!! BIDEN SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED TO RUN - GOT CAUGHT!!! https://t.co/hf7zjqZYQ4— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2020