Setting: Loudoun County, Virginia, 2021. A girl is sexually assaulted in a school bathroom by a self-styled “trans girl” – i.e., a boy. But school administrators are so fiercely devoted to transgender ideology that they cover up the assault – and when the victim’s father, Scott Smith, speaks up at a school-board meeting, he gets tackled by cops. In the wake of this and similar incidents around the country, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) collaborates with Biden White House staffers on a letter to the Justice Department falsely claiming that parents like Smith have been guilty of “malice, violence, and threats against public school officials” and asking the DOJ to deal appropriately with these “domestic terrorists.”
Cruz, who begins his splendid third book, Justice Corrupted: How the Left Weaponized Our Legal System, with this story, points out that it’s taken months for the DOJ to answer letters from him – a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. But it took only six days for the NSBA letter to result in a memo by Attorney General Merrick Garland promising to act against recalcitrant parents and ordering the FBI and DOJ to investigate them. Thanks to widespread publicity, massive displays of parental outrage, a definitive investigation by the Daily Wire, and a firm grilling of Garland by Cruz himself at a Senate committee hearing, the DOJ backed off. For the moment, anyway.
Such weaponization of executive agencies isn’t new. Cruz tells the story. The DOJ, founded in 1870 by President Grant to address the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, succeeded eventually in bringing it down. Grant was a Republican and the Klan was overwhelmingly Democratic, but the DOJ’s mission wasn’t political; it operated independently from the White House, and continued to do so under successive administrations. That changed under FDR. Both the DOJ and Edgar Hoover’s FBI (founded in 1908) engaged in extralegal shenanigans on FDR’s orders; FDR also seems to have been the first president to weaponize the IRS (founded in 1913), which he used to target personal enemies as well as New Deal critics such as Huey Long and William Randolph Hearst. Later, JFK not only sicced the DOJ (conveniently led by his brother) on his enemies, but also told the IRS to deny nonprofit status to conservative groups.
Then came Nixon, at whose behest the FBI harassed the likes of John Lennon and Muhammed Ali; in 1975, a committee led by Senator Frank Church uncovered sundry abuses not just by the FBI but also by the CIA and NSA. But during the Nixon years there were also cases of impressive integrity. The IRS, while willing enough to look into Nixon’s enemies, balked at acting against them; indeed, IRS commissioner Donald Alexander eventually halted such investigations altogether, and when Nixon tried to fire Alexander, Treasury Secretary George Schulz threatened to quit. Similarly, when a low-level Nixon aide, with the president’s approval, proposed a joint DOJ, FBI, and CIA operation against presidential enemies, both Hoover and Attorney General John Mitchell said no; later, both Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Assistant Attorney General William Ruckelshaus famously quit rather than obey Nixon’s order to dismiss Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox. In short, as Cruz puts it, to a remarkable extent “the system worked during the Nixon administration.”
And so it remained, more or less, until the advent of Barack Obama – who, when it came to making political use of executive agencies, made his predecessors look like amateurs. Under Obama, IRS agents were ordered to target the Tea Party movement and other conservative groups. After a Treasury Department report uncovered these abuses, IRS director Lois Lerner took the Fifth at two House committee hearings. She should have been prosecuted – Cruz himself led an effort to see her brought to justice – but the DOJ did nothing. “Not only had [Obama] fulfilled the Nixonian dream of turning the IRS on his political opponents,” observes Cruz wryly, “he had also pulled off the cover-up that Nixon could never get right.” Cruz introduced two amendments to address IRS abuses, but Senate Democrats voted them down. (For what it’s worth, Cruz makes a trivial mistake here, writing that the current IRS tax code, at 2.4 million words, is four times as long as War and Peace; in fact, it’s closer to fifty times as long.)
Obama’s weaponization of the IRS having ended in a debacle, he apparently decided that it was better instead to use the FBI, CIA, and DOJ. So in the last days of his presidency, after Donald Trump had been elected to succeed him, Obama met with Attorney General Sally Yates, FBI director James Comey, and Vice President Biden to concoct the the Trump-Russia hoax. Their ensuing attempt – in collusion with Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, and with the assistance of most of the corporate media, as well as assorted anti-Trump judges and juries – to bring down Trump by means of false corruption charges was itself, of course, a colossal (indeed, unprecedented) act of presidential corruption. In summarizing Obama’s plot against Trump, Cruz provides just enough detail to make us angry all over again.
Not all of the abuse of government power occurs on presidential orders. In American courts, the ideal of blind justice has been widely replaced by Critical Race Theory, which teaches its adherents to view black felons as wronged innocents and their white victims as guilty heirs to a legacy of oppression. One of the many terrible consequences of this twisted mentality was that a thug named Darrell Brooks was repeatedly freed after committing a series of violent crimes, enabling him to plow his car into the 2022 Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, killing five and injuring sixty-two (a crime that many media tried to pass off as an accident and that, in any event, was soon dropped down the memory hole). Another consequence of the ascent of CRT was the demonization of the heroic teenager Kyle Rittenhouse, who in Kenosha (not far from Waukesha) protected private property from BLM protesters only to be widely depicted as a racist and put on trial by zealous – but, fortunately, incompetent – prosecutors.
CRT has manifested itself in numerous ways, all horrible. Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan hailed the 2020 anarchist takeover of a chunk of her city as evidence that it was experiencing a “summer of love.” Chicago district attorney Kim Foxx announced that she wouldn’t prosecute theft cases involving less than $1000; Rachael Rollins, a Boston DA, similarly promised not to try a long list of offenses. Kamala Harris promoted a fund to bail out rioters. Across the country, the movement to “defund the police” was celebrated. When Cruz tried to have Antifa designated as a terrorist organization, Democrats killed the bill in committee. (In his account of all this woke nonsense, by the way, Cruz makes another minor mistake, writing that postmodernist Judith Butler won a worst-writing prize from the Guardian; in fact, that distinction was awarded by the journal Philosophy and Literature.)
Then came the outraged left-wing response to legitimate concerns about the fairness of the 2020 election. When White House officials quite reasonably challenged the results, Cruz urged them to hire better lawyers, but the ones Cruz approached refused to sign on: that’s how good a job the left had done of making it toxic simply to provide the likes of Trump with legal representation. Cruz himself was willing to argue a couple of cases before the Supreme Court, but the Court declined to hear them. Meanwhile, cases in lower courts kept being dismissed on procedural grounds – fueling ignorant media assertions that there was nothing in Trump’s claims of election fraud. Convinced that the claims merited serious attention, Cruz put together a group of Senators who promised that on January 6 they’d reject electors from disputed states and vote to form an Election Commission to perform an audit; but after the “insurrectionists” entered the Capitol the plan evaporated – and Biden’s win was certified. This account intensifies one’s suspicions that the “insurrection” was orchestrated by the Democrats precisely in order to achieve that result.
And then came the deluge. Far exceeding traditional bounds of partisan discourse, Democrats accused virtually half the country of “treason” and “sedition.” Having smiled on the summer 2020 riots, they now equated January 6 with 9/11; whereas hundreds of Antifa and BLM hoodlums who’d set fires, destroyed property, and pummeled innocents hadn’t been arrested at all, 775 citizens who’d been in or near the Capitol that day, exercising their constitutional rights, were taken into custody, with hundreds of them being imprisoned for months. When Cruz and other members of Congress inquired about these arrestees, the DOJ ignored them. As if all that weren’t enough, it soon started to look as if FBI agents – among them a shadowy figure named Ray Epps – had been among the January 6 “insurrectionists” and had encouraged them to enter the Capitol.
What to say at the end of such a book? There’s no proper way to conclude it. Justice Corrupted isn’t a report on a problem that’s been resolved – it’s a snapshot of conditions that we’re living with right now. If there was, indeed, mass election fraud in 2020, who’s to say that it won’t be repeated in 2024? We already know that Obama, Biden, and Hillary Clinton were involved in the plot to depict Trump as a Russia tool – yet today he’s the one who’s been subpoenaed (on trumped-up charges) while they remain at large. We also know that Biden, his name long a synonym for mediocrity, laziness, and sleaze, has profited from an international influence-peddling operation whose level of ambition would have stunned any previous president – at least, any president before Obama. The whole disgraceful mess is unworthy of America. And there’s no chance of any improvement unless Trump regains the White House, the GOP retakes the Senate, and gutsy members of Congress like Ted Cruz help him, at long last, to drain the swamp.