While New York City prosecutor Alvin Bragg pushes to indict former President Donald Trump on charges even he admits would be difficult to prove, federal prosecutors announced they plan to charge up to 1,200 more people in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, melee at the U.S. Capitol.
These moves reflect the government’s deepening assault on crucial constitutional freedoms. Widely described in the press as the most extensive FBI operation ever carried out, it is designed to boost President Joseph Biden’s re-election in 2024 and block Trump from ever holding office again.
That means it’s at least on the scale of the FBI’s efforts to frame up and jail Socialist Workers Party leaders on the eve of the second imperialist World War; its far-reaching anti-communist witch hunt in the late 1940s and early ’50s; its Cointelpro operations against the SWP, Black rights fighters, opponents of the Vietnam War and others in the 1960s; and its decadeslong war against fighters for independence of Puerto Rico.
Currently Democrats are pressing seven different civil and criminal proceedings against Trump, all partisan efforts aimed at accomplishing the same goal.
Republicans are just as willing to shred political rights in today’s highly partisan contests over which party will get to rule for the bosses. But the Democrats and their middle-class radical allies are far out in front.
And their attacks on constitutional freedoms deal blows to rights working people need and use to defend our class interests.
The highly stage-managed and carefully edited production called the Jan. 6 committee hearings ended in December. But the Justice Department and federal prosecutors are determined to ensure the liberal media will have copy to continue spewing hysteria right through the 2024 election campaign about what happened that day.
They have taken advantage of the notorious “plea bargain” system — an egregious assault on the right to an unbiased trial before a jury of your peers — to rack up a stunning 99.8% conviction rate. Such pleas, forced by threats of far harsher sentences at trial, have been extracted from at least 450 people so far.
Defendants pleading guilty received an average 13 months less prison time for the same offenses on Jan. 6 as those who insisted on exercising their right to a trial.
Typical of the way the government dealt blows to the presumption of innocence was the trial of Jacob Chansley. He got a four-year jail sentence after pleading guilty to obstructing an official proceeding, after being threatened with charges of “Violent Entry and Disorderly Conduct.”
But Chansley might not have pled guilty to anything had he or his attorneys been informed of the existence of video footage showing that he was peacefully escorted around the Capitol’s corridors by officers there.
The FBI used the Jan. 6 riot to carry out a huge fishing expedition, dealing blows to Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. It got a warrant forcing Google to scour the location of millions of smart phone users and then turn over data from 5,700 phones used by people who were found to be at or near the Capitol that day. They got Bank of America to cross reference its credit card records for anyone in Washington and turn the details over.
The government’s extensive use of “confidential human sources” — FBI jargon for informers — during and after Jan. 6 was revealed during the recent trial of five members of the Proud Boys. They’re charged under thought-control sedition laws of plotting to overthrow the government.
As of March 22 at least nine government finks were known to be informing on the Proud Boys. Informer Jennylyn Salinas, a former official of Latinos for Trump, held regular discussions with the defendants, suggesting possible defense witnesses and taking part in group prayer meetings with their families. She met with their defense attorneys and made “detailed inquiries” about the defense, one of the lawyers reported. The government says it was getting information from her from April 2020 up until this January.
Court officials are doing everything possible to cover up their unconstitutional spy operations. After what they’ve been through, some of the FBI’s informers in this operation now say they want to testify on behalf of the defendants. But, in another blow to political rights, Judge Timothy J. Kelly refused to let defense lawyers put FBI snitch Kenneth Lizardo on the stand.
Alongside its widespread use of the FBI as a partisan political police, the Democrats are also going after the basic right to have privileged, private discussions with your lawyers. They got a cooperative judge to compel Evan Corcoran, one of Trump’s main lawyers, to be grilled before a grand jury March 24. It targets the former president’s alleged possession of classified documents.
The judge’s ruling violates the Sixth Amendment, which protects the right of any person accused of a crime to a defense counsel.
‘Get Trump at all costs’
“No one is above the law,” Democrats repeatedly say as they demand Trump be prosecuted. What they’re actually saying is that no constitutional protections should stand in the way of their drive to destroy his political life and his family.
“Donald Trump Must Be Prosecuted,” demanded New York Times columnist Charles Blow March 15, when leaks indicated New York District Attorney Bragg was about to file charges against Trump. The former president’s “crime” was making payments back in 2016 to Stephanie Clifford in order to get her not to reveal their alleged relationship. But the statute of limitations for such a charge had expired.
Attacks on constitutional protections by the FBI, prosecutors, judges and the government have been the norm throughout the Democrats’ Jan. 6 hearings and trials. Today they’re targeting Trump, a leader of one of the capitalist rulers’ two main parties, and hundreds of his supporters, who have been spied upon and denied rights they need to defend themselves.
Every time the rulers chip away at these freedoms, regardless of the target, the end result will be used to go after workers, farmers and their vanguard fighters. Standing guard against any infringement on these protections is crucial for the working-class struggles that lie ahead.