With just three weeks before midterm elections, Democrats are ratcheting up their anti-Donald Trump crusade to a fever pitch, with more televised congressional show trial hearings into the Jan. 6, 2021, melee at the Capitol and the House select committee’s subpoena of the former president.
This follows President Joseph Biden’s vilification last month of tens of millions of “MAGA Republicans” as “semi-fascists” and a “clear and present danger,” and the government’s claim that the FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home was a pressing matter of “national security.”
Both the FBI operations against Trump, dating back to his 2016 campaign, and current Jan. 6 hearings are grave attacks on crucially needed constitutional freedoms. Regardless of who the target is, this sets a dangerous precedent that will be turned into a weapon against working people.
Freedoms codified in the Constitution — free speech and assembly and more — are crucial whenever working people are involved in strike battles, fights for women’s rights and against cop brutality, and protests against the U.S. rulers’ brutal embargo of Cuba.
The working class and its vanguard have long faced attacks on these rights from the capitalist rulers and the FBI, their central political police outfit. In the late 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt sent the FBI after the militant Teamsters union in the Upper Midwest and the Socialist Workers Party to try and crush opposition in the labor movement to Washington’s entry into the Second World War.
After the war, it was the McCarthyite witch hunt targeting labor militants, the Communist Party and SWP that dealt blows to political rights.
In the 1960s, Democratic and Republican governments alike turned the FBI loose against leaders of the fight against Jim Crow segregation, opponents of their brutal war in Vietnam and others. The SWP led in exposing Cointelpro operations through its successful lawsuit and political campaign against the political police. This dealt blows to the FBI, exposing its long record of spying, burglaries, wiretaps and disruption.
Today the central challenge to constitutional freedoms is the assault on Trump by the Biden White House, along with his fellow Democrats and a layer of Never-Trump Republicans. The FBI is at the center of their efforts.
House witch hunt, sedition laws
Underlining the show-trial character of the Jan. 6 House select committee, this final round of hearings relies heavily on professionally produced and highly edited videos that eliminate any danger of cross examination or opposing testimony.
Despite hundreds of hours of testimony and millions of documents, the House committee has yet to come up with anything to bring charges against Trump.
Committee members held closed-door interviews with dozens of former Trump officials throughout the summer, hoping to get someone to finger him for something, without any real success.
Trump wrote to Committee Chair Bernard Thompson in response to the Oct. 13 subpoena, saying the hearings were orchestrated by the same people who manufactured the Trump/Russia collusion hoax and set the FBI spying on his 2016 campaign. He refused to say whether he would appear, but did say the committee had “no legitimacy.”
Now committee member Rep. Zoe Lofgren is trying to smear Trump with guilt by association. The new hearings will show “the mob” on Jan. 6 “was led by some extremist groups, they plotted in advance what they were going to do and those individuals were known to people in the Trump orbit.”
More than a dozen people have been charged with seditious conspiracy stemming from the action at the Capitol. The trial of Oath Keepers militia leader Stewart Rhodes is underway. Prosecutors will call 40 witnesses over three-and-a-half weeks, ensuring the trial lasts through the elections, aiding the Democrats.
Sedition and conspiracy laws make advocating ideas — free speech — a crime. They are a serious danger to the entire labor movement and anyone who speaks out against government policy. Such charges were used to try to silence abolitionists before the Civil War and to bring charges against leaders of the Teamsters and the Socialist Workers Party in 1941.
FBI offers $1 million to get Trump
The extent of the FBI’s campaign to prevent Trump’s election in 2016 was highlighted during the just completed trial of ex-spy and FBI informant Igor Danchenko. He was acquitted Oct. 18 of charges of lying to the FBI, but the trial was revealing.
At the trial FBI “analyst” Brian Auten admitted the FBI offered British spy Christopher Steele $1 million just before the 2016 election if he could provide any proof to confirm his dossier’s lurid claims that Trump was colluding with Moscow. Danchenko had fed Steele much of the unsubstantiated allegations Steele then regurgitated. Steele had nothing for them.
So the FBI knew Steele’s dossier was a Democratic Party-funded tissue of lies, but used it anyway to get a warrant to spy on Trump campaigner Carter Page. And the FBI put Danchenko on its payroll for nearly four years to try to keep him quiet. FBI boss James Comey was at the heart of these 2016 operations.
Then the Democrats chose ex-FBI boss Robert Mueller to run a 22-month-long probe into the same discredited claim that Trump was a Russian agent, based on the same smears provided by Steele.
Covert operations, lying, disruption and frame-ups are part and parcel of FBI operations. Its role as the capitalist rulers’ political police force is to spearhead assaults on working people and on freedoms we need.
The Democrats are trying to refurbish the image of the FBI snoops, in preparation for deepening class struggle battles to come.