“[J]ust yesterday a new poll showed President Trump is without a doubt Biden’s leading political opponent. Everyone in America could see what was going to come next: DOJ’s attempt to distract from the news and attack the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, President Trump. House Republicans will continue to uncover the truth about Biden Inc. and the two-tiered system of justice.”
That was House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Aug. 1 reacting to the Justice Department and Special Counsel Jack Smith’s latest indictment of former President Donald Trump for challenging the results of the 2020 election, citing recent polls that have shown Trump leading incumbent President Joe Biden.
The polls include the Messenger-Harris poll conducted by HarrisX July 21 to July 24 that showed Trump leading Biden, 46 percent to 42 percent. Critically, that includes independents supporting Trump 42 percent to 34 percent over Biden, and a whopping 24 percent saying they did not know who they would support.
What is amazing is Trump’s stickiness in the polls despite a flurry of politically-charged indictments this year by New York City and now the Justice Department and Special Counsel Jack Smith with twin cases on the former president’s receipt of classified documents when he was in office and their retention after he left office, and now with challenging the results of the 2020 election.
Remarkably, the indictments are apparently not hurting Trump politically. In fact, they might be helping. Trump has widened his lead for the Republican nomination by a lot, leading his closest rival, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, 54 percent to 18 percent, according to the latest RealClearPolitics.com average of national polls. Vivek Ramaswarmy garners 5 percent, followed by former Vice President Mike Pence with 4.4 percent.
Overall, a 36-point lead is complete domination with such a wide field for a non-incumbent candidate. Obviously, it is owed to the fact that Trump is the former president, as even before the indictments, Trump was leading the GOP field in all but one national poll taken the past two years.
And candidates who have sought to exploit Trump’s legal misfortunes — including Biden and now Pence, too — have not benefitted in the polls at all. Both are viewed highly unfavorably. That’s easy to understand, too. The Justice Department is prosecuting the sitting President Biden’s political opponents, which offends the American people’s sensibilities and democratic and constitutional norms.
After all, it is the American people, not the Justice Department, who gets to choose the president in elections. Many pundits including this author had speculated that Special Counsel Smith would attempt to bring an insurrection charge that could later be used by Congress to disqualify Trump under Sections 3 and 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment, but that has not happened as of yet.
Does Smith and Attorney General Merrick Garland—and in extension President Biden—view disqualification as a bridge too far? That is, an obviously desperate gambit to rig the election by controlling who the opponents are allowed to be, something that tinpot dictatorships and banana republics resort to, by imprisoning political opponents.
I’d argue that it doesn’t matter what the charges are to Trump’s supporters and potential supporters as, either way, they are designed to put him in prison, whether it keeps him off the ballot or not. They have already made him a martyr not just for Republicans, but Americans of all political stripes who ever supported him.
This might set the stage for Speaker McCarthy and House Republicans, who appear ready to launch an impeachment inquiry against Biden over him and his family’s foreign business dealings and influence peddling, to add prosecuting political opponents, the evidence of which is overwhelming, to the list of potential charges. These are the sorts of machinations that historically have brought republics to their knees.
That makes the indictments not just constitutionally detrimental, but politically counterproductive for the incumbent party, the Democrats, who rely on counterintelligence investigations, special counsels, classified surveillance and even censorship and bids to control who appears on the ballot in the place of debate, political discourse and elections. It’s pathetic, and the American people can see it for what it is: Tyranny.
Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.
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