New indictment of Trump is assault on political rights all workers need

By Terry Evans
July 3, 2023

Dealing serious blows to constitutional freedoms, President Joseph Biden is using his Justice Department to escalate the Democrats’ drive to destroy former President Donald Trump. For the first time ever, a sitting president — who is also a candidate for president — is using his office to try to indict his main rival for the White House and throw him into jail.

The criminalization of  political differences is dangerous for working people. Defending the freedoms protected by the Constitution, and pushing back against the U.S. rulers’ drive to refurbish the FBI, are at the center of the class struggle today.

Trump was indicted on 37 counts in hopes at least one will stick. Thirty one are under the notorious Espionage Act, a witch hunt law used for decades to target militant workers, opponents of imperialist war, the Socialist Workers Party and others.

The former president, and his aide, Waltine Nauta, were also indicted on six additional charges, including the thought-control statute of “conspiring” to obstruct justice. The indictment was handed down June 8 by a federal grand jury, under the direction of special prosecutor Jack Smith.

Trump pled not guilty June 13.

Prosecutors say Trump’s “crime” was his unauthorized retention of “information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of both the United States and foreign countries,” as well as U.S. nuclear programs and military plans. He disclosed some of the material to others, the indictment claims, which “put at risk the national security of the United States.”

“‘National security’ has been a key political smear used in every government witch hunt,” Joanne Kuniansky, Socialist Workers Party candidate for New Jersey State Senate, told the Militant. “Working people and our unions should demand the charges against Trump be dropped.”

“Workers involved in strikes know that bosses use the courts and their government to attack our struggles by restricting labor rights. Last year’s move by Biden and a bipartisan Congress to ban rail workers from going on strike is just the latest example,” she said.

The indictment pointedly fails to mention the Presidential Records Act, which allows presidents to hold onto government documents — classified and unclassified — accumulated during their term in office. Many have done so, displaying some in museums they build to tout their presidency.

There’s a long record of prosecutors refusing to file charges in previous breaches of government rules on the handling of secret documents. In 2016, Barack Obama chose not to prosecute Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for retaining loads of classified documents among thousands of emails on her personal server and then destroying many of them to cover up her actions. “No reasonable prosecutor,” FBI boss James Comey declared, “would bring such a case.”

Biden himself is being investigated for keeping documents from his days as vice president in numerous places, including by his Corvette in the garage of his Wilmington, Delaware, home. No one expects he will be charged.

To try to conceal the fact that the prosecution of Trump is aimed at fixing an election, Biden ordered his reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee to say not one word about the indictment. Apparently Biden’s wife, Jill, didn’t get the memo. She told the media it was “shocking” that 61% of Republican voters say they’ll still vote for Trump despite the indictment.

Class hatred toward those working people Clinton labeled “deplorables” runs through government attacks on Trump and our political rights. Biden helped pave the way for the prosecution last September when he called tens of millions of so-called MAGA Republicans “semi-fascists” who threaten “the very foundation of our republic.”

“Workers, the trade unions and organizations of the exploited and oppressed must unconditionally oppose anti-constitutional assaults by the government,” explains the SWP 2022 political resolution printed in The Low Point of Labor Resistance Is Behind Us: The Socialist Workers Party Looks Forward by party leaders Jack Barnes, Mary-Alice Waters and Steve Clark.

“As Leon Trotsky forcefully reminded us in 1939,” the resolution states, “‘Under conditions of the bourgeois regime, all suppression of political rights and freedom, no matter whom they are directed against in the beginning, in the end inevitably bear down upon the working class, particularly its most advanced elements. That is a law of history.’”

Witch hunt Espionage Act

The 1917 Espionage Act used in the indictment of Trump was put on the books during the first imperialist World War to silence opponents of the capitalist rulers’ entry into that conflict over markets and power. The first person convicted was Socialist Party member Charles Schenck. His “offense” was sending out flyers opposing the draft.

Upholding Schenk’s conviction, the U.S. Supreme Court set a damning precedent, used many times since to justify attacks on the First Amendment. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said there was no right to free speech for “a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.”

Prosecutors are trampling on other constitutional protections. Smith got a judge to force Trump’s lawyer, Evan Corcoran, to be grilled before the grand jury. This is a grave violation of a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to attorney-client privilege.

The indictment claims Corcoran told the grand jury that the former president hinted to him that the lawyer could remove documents that might be damaging to Trump before turning the rest over to the government. This is used to bolster the government’s claim that Trump was “conspiring to obstruct justice.” Like all conspiracy allegations this includes no actual illegal acts and is especially hard to defend yourself against.

At the government’s request, U.S. Magistrate Bruce Reinhart ruled June 19 that Trump is barred from publicly disclosing or discussing the evidence against him. The gag order also restricted Trump’s access to the evidence and bars him from making any copies.

An additional challenge facing Trump is finding the best lawyers to defend himself. Because of the ferocity of the Democrats’ hysteria to cripple Trump, any lawyer who considers representing him has to recognize it can effect their career and more.

“There is a nefarious group that calls itself The 65 Project that has as its goal to intimidate lawyers into not representing Trump or anyone associated with him,” civil liberties lawyer Alan Dershowitz wrote June 15. “They have threatened to file bar charges against any such lawyers.”

All of this is part and parcel of the capitalist “justice” system, being used by Biden and his party in a political witch hunt.

“Over two-and-a-half centuries of struggle, working people have won crucial protections from attack by the capitalist state,” Kuniansky said. “These political freedoms are needed and used by working people whenever we build unions; fight for jobs, wages and health care; or demand an end to the U.S. rulers’ wars; or organize to fight government injustice.”