The media has spent quite a few years dangling the prospect of a Trump indictment in front of its crazed readership and viewership. Ever since the Clinton campaign covertly generated the Steele dossier as opposition research to justify Obama’s eavesdropping on her opponent, while also feeding it to the media, this ongoing campaign has dominated the media, turned Mueller into a celebrity, and created a whole conspiracy culture. Federal and local prosecutors ignored a growing crime wave to target President Trump.
Or rather his associates.
The latest phases of Trump indictment theater stay within the same parameters, targeting associates over allegations that would not have led to criminal charges for anyone who wasn’t associated with Trump or suspected of something more serious. Jonathan Turley has chronicled this circus more than adequately over the years, but the upshot is that the strategy depends on finding some petty allegation, blowing it up, throwing the book at a few Trump associates, and dragging out the case long past the point where it’s clear that it has no substance.
Federal prosecutors and local elected officials love headlines. And this kind of misconduct long predated Trump’s presidency with prosecutors routinely targeting some celebrities over imaginary crimes, e.g. Martha Stewart, the USC celebrity parents, to feed off the headlines, while giving genuine monsters like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein a pass.
But the level of selective prosecutions targeting Trump associates is an unprecedented attack on the rule of law with prosecutors treating a public official and his inner circle like members of the mafia.
Selective prosecutions targeting the political opposition make America look like South America or Russia. Federal law enforcement had been given a lot of leeway in the past because it was seen as a necessary hedge against organized crime. Even as the leeway is shrinking, city, state, and federal prosecutors continue targeting their political opponents.
The process won’t take down President Trump, but it feeds that expectation on ‘resistance Twitter’ (more properly establishment Twitter) and on MSNBC. Meanwhile, it warns away anyone from being part of his team by making it clear that they will immediately become targets.
The technical term for this is political terror.