GOP Warns Prosecution of Trump Would Lead to Political War
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GOP lawmakers warn that any prosecution of former President Donald Trump will lead to a political war.
In a court filing last week, the House Jan. 6 committee signaled its likely referral to the Department of Justice, saying the panel has “a good-faith basis for concluding that the president and members of his campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
But Republican legislators and political strategists warn that any federal prosecution of Trump will be accused of being politically motivated, boost Trump within the GOP, and turn into a partisan battle as President Joe Biden pivots to the center, struggling to keep his 2020 campaign promise to unify the country.
Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) said any criminal referral from the House “would probably have as much political taint on it as you can get.”
“To me it’s clearly politically driven,” he said, adding, “At least half the country would say it’s all politically motivated.”
“Everybody is going to perceive the referral as a conviction on one side and they’re going to view it as the continuation of a witch hunt on the other side,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said.
“The bar that the House committee has is far lower than anything that would ultimately result in moving forward with a federal investigation and a conviction.”
Strategists close to Trump predict a battle royale if the DOJ indicts the former president.
“I think it could backfire in a way that they have no clue,” said Republican pollster Jim McLaughlin. “I think it’s going to backfire because it just so political, and it’s tainted.”
“The country wants to move on. Nobody is proud of what happened on Jan. 6 but people are like, ‘With all the problems we have going on in the country right now, this is going to be the focus of the Democrats?’”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close Trump ally and senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said any recommendation to prosecute from the House select committee would lack credibility.
“I don’t see anything coming out of this committee not tainted by politics,” he said.
Republicans also caution that any federal prosecution of Trump would likely result in congressional investigations of Biden and his son Hunter if the GOP regains the House and Senate majorities in the 2022 midterm elections.
“I wonder if they’re ever going to file charges against Hillary Clinton for what she did after 2016,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).
A prosecution “will only make Trump stronger with the GOP primary voters,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist.
“If your goal is to make sure Donald Trump is the nominee in 2024 for the Republicans, then by all means proceed with this. You’re just going to make him stronger,” he said.
Republicans warn Justice Department probe of Trump would trigger political war