Liberals attack on ‘taking the Fifth’ threat to workers’ rights

By Terry Evans
May 28, 2018

If your media gazing is confined to the New York Times, NPR, “Saturday Night Live” and the late-night “talk” shows, you would think all right-minded people are determined to oust President Donald Trump and that they’re on the verge of succeeding.

The relentless efforts of this “Resistance” — the liberals and middle-class left seeking to force Trump from office — aren’t really aimed at him. Their real target is the millions of working people who voted for him, described as a mob of bigots and xenophobes, and by Hillary Clinton as the “deplorables.” The meritocratic-minded liberals see today’s great danger as the increasingly feisty working class, and its political rights as a liability. Finding ways to curtail these workers and their impact on politics is the order of the day.

“The possibility of reasoned deliberation … has been obliterated by the white-hot racial and cultural hatreds that Trump was able to exploit to get elected,” Andrew Sullivan writes in a March 12 New York Times review of Cass Sunstein’s new book Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide. Sunstein is renowned in meritocratic circles for his view that government has to use its power to “nudge” less-intelligent workers “to do the right thing.”

Speaking in New Zealand May 8 Clinton claimed working people voted against her because of their “ingrained sexism.”

The liberals’ heroes of today — Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to “investigate” whether Trump colluded with Moscow to rig his 2016 election, and James Comey, who tried to stop Trump’s election and whose leaks were used to justify the appointment of Mueller — are both former directors of the FBI, the U.S. rulers’ political police. The FBI has been used to attack and disrupt the labor movement, the fight to overthrow Jim Crow segregation, the mass movement against the rulers’ war in Vietnam, the Socialist Workers Party and other groups involved in the struggles of working people. They are bitter opponents, not heroes, of the working class

Now the liberals are pushing for a rewrite of the Bill of Rights — protections working people will need with rising union and social struggles in the years ahead — in their campaign against the workers who elected Trump.

The New York Times published an anonymously leaked list of questions April 30 that it says Mueller wants to grill Trump about. Mueller’s probe is an open-ended partisan witch hunt aimed at finding “evidence” that can be used to impeach the president. Rudolph Giuliani, one of the president’s lawyers, and others who correctly see nothing but a setup in Mueller’s quest for a talk, said Trump may invoke the Fifth Amendment and exercise his right not to reply.

The editors of the Washington Post got all huffy May 7, saying Trump should have “nothing to fear from appearing before a duly convened grand jury.” But workers know from bitter experience that a “duly convened grand jury” is a tool cops and prosecutors use to try to hang a frame-up on those they target. They compel witnesses to attend, on pain of detention, and interrogate you with no right to an attorney.

Prominent civil liberties lawyer Alan Dershowitz went further April 30, saying, “Invoking the Fifth Amendment … will make him [Trump] seem guilty.”

These were questions fought out during the FBI and congressional witch hunt in the 1950s. At that time some liberals protested attacks on the Fifth Amendment, refuting the false notion that invoking it was an admission of guilt. When witnesses refused to name names demanded by members of Congress, they were held in contempt and jailed.

Dershowitz’s assertion is a mockery of the protections in the Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment says, “No person shall … be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” After the first American Revolution against the British Crown, the country’s new rulers drew up a constitution that failed to establish protections against state attacks on basic rights. Rural farmers waged an armed protest, known as Shays’ Rebellion, in 1786. This uprising helped lead to the Bill of Rights.

Today millions of workers are inspired by the rising struggle being waged by teachers across the U.S. The bosses’ drive to make working people pay for the capitalist crisis will provoke more protests against the rulers’ wars and oppression and to sharper class battles in the years ahead. The propertied owners will make greater use of their cops and courts to frame up workers involved in these struggles and to quash political rights. Undermining the Fifth Amendment deals a blow to working people.

The hatred of Trump and the workers who elected him is rife in the media. Attacks on the new “Roseanne” TV show and the lionizing of Michelle Wolf’s belittling anti-woman rant at Ivanka Trump and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders disguised as “humor” at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner are just two examples. There are a growing number of TV shows, like CBS’ “Madame Secretary,” that involve the impeachment of a fictional president.

Despite their campaign, liberals are farther away than ever from impeaching Trump. He has garnered ruling-class support by cutting corporate taxes. He has opened the door to big changes in Korea, raising the possibility of peace and a deal there.

With Mueller unable to find any evidence of collusion between Moscow and Trump’s 2016 campaign, his probe has focused on other individuals with some connection to the president. One is former campaign official Paul Manafort, who Mueller has charged with tax and bank fraud. Manafort challenged Mueller’s sprawling probe in court as overly broad. Federal Judge T.S. Ellis said the charges bore no relation to what Mueller was authorized to investigate, adding the ex-FBI chief didn’t have “unfettered power.” He has yet to rule on whether Mueller’s charges will stand.

These issues are of real concern to the working class.