Trump’s promise of prosecution payback follows years of attacking democratic traditions 2023

In the face of unprecedented claims of malfeasance, Donald Trump and his allies mounted a victimhood defense. Now the stakes are higher.

Trump escalated his threats as he faces years in jail if convicted of 37 obstruction, improper retention of defense material, and other counts. Trump promised to strike against President Joe Biden if he is elected president in 2024 hours after pleading not guilty.

In a New Jersey golf club rally, Trump told supporters that “there was an unwritten rule” not to prosecute past presidents and political enemies.

“I will appoint a real special prosecutor to go after the most corrupt president in American history, Joe Biden, and the Biden crime family.”

Analysts were disturbed by the promise’s specificity, which echoed Trump’s 2016 “lock her up” calls for Hillary Clinton.

“If he did that, it’d be an authoritarian system, the end of a system of laws rather than one man,” said presidential historian Lindsay Chervinsky.

The norm was undocumented.

Trump and his supporters claim he is being targeted in a manner similar to authoritarian regimes like Russia and Venezuela, where opponents of President Vladimir Putin have been jailed or prosecuted. Biden never pledged to attack Trump, and the president maintained he never sought to influence the Justice Department.

Trump’s attacks on the court system are the latest in an eight-year onslaught by the former president and his associates against American democracy’s traditions and institutions.

Trump has frequently complained about the judicial system, from accusing the judge in a case against his for-profit university of prejudice to attacking the FBI over its investigation of Russian meddling in his 2016 election.

He even appointed a special prosecutor to investigate his campaign’s probable collaboration with Russia, which resulted in only one conviction.

Fred Wertheimer, head of Democracy 21, a pro-government group, said his track record made his promise of retaliation more threatening.

“He has shown repeatedly during his presidency that he is perfectly willing to misuse and abuse his office to carry out purely personal activities,” Wertheimer added.

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