In response to Trump indictment, Republicans again insist Republicans are above the law
Within minutes of news that Donald Trump has been indicted1, Republicans rushed to denounce the possibility of the head of their party facing legal consequences for his actions.
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), last seen extending a raised fist in salute2 to insurrectionists at the United States Capitol building, tweeted:
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, whose campaign proposals include stripping voting rights from adults under the age of 25 and giving Vladimir Putin Ukraine, immediately promised that if he wins the presidency3 he will pardon Trump.
There’s more; I’m not going to catalogue it. Nobody is surprised by this, I’m sure.
What I will do is offer a reminder: A political party that routinely incites violence and condones lawbreaking by its own members and supporters is not a “tough on crime” party, and journalists who portray it as such are lying to you. The Republican Party has declared its belief that it is above the law, and has deliberately condoned and encouraged lawbreaking as a means of seizing power. It should be treated as such.
Two months ago, when Texas governor Greg Abbott vowed to pardon a man convicted of murdering a Black Lives Matter protester, I wrote:
The embrace of violence as a tool to seize and hold power by the right wing and Republican Party should be a dominant topic of news coverage, every single day. And it is the kind of core truth that should color coverage of the GOP across the board. It’s not something that should be compartmentalized away; it’s relevant to everything Republicans do. To take the most obvious example: Even as it has increasingly embraced the use of violence for political ends, the Republican Party has spent the last few years yelling loudly (and often dishonestly) about crime. And the news media has obediently echoed the Republican Party’s attacks on supposedly criminal-coddling progressives and its alarmism about crime. It boggles the mind that any journalist could possibly cover these attacks without noting the GOP’s defense of Trump’s serial law-breaking and embrace of political violence, and yet such compartmentalized coverage has long been the norm.
Throughout 2020, as Trump was flagrantly breaking the law and explicitly encouraging his supporters to become violent on his behalf, he was also talking about crime, as Republican politicians tend to do. And the news media obligingly portrayed Trump as a “law and order” politician — even as he was breaking the law on a daily basis and intentionally inciting political violence.
The GOP’s false tough on crime/law and order branding isn’t the most important thing about its gleeful lawlessness, of course. But finally deciding to stop playing along with it should be an easy decision for journalists to make.