On Friday, former President Donald Trump was indicted by special counsel Jack Smith for his involvement in the events that took place at the US Capitol on January 6th, 2021. President Joe Biden and White House press secretary Karine Jean Pierre continue to insist the investigation and resulting charges are unbiased and being conducted independently.
But a New York Times report from April 2022 is now receiving special attention that suggests otherwise. According to two people familiar with Biden’s comments, the President has indicated his belief that Trump is a “threat to democracy” and should be “prosecuted”.
If the investigation was politically motivated, then it could cause a serious problem for the Biden administration. That’s because the indictments focus on Trump’s speech concerning the January 6th events, and the criteria for such speech could be broadly applied.
George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley weighed in on the controversy, noting that the First Amendment could be used as a defense if other leaders, namely Biden, were subject to the same scrutiny.
The threshold challenge comes from the US vs. Alvarez case, which overturned a conviction of a politician who knowingly lied about his military background. Turley claims any case to be brought against Trump – or any other political leader – on the basis of speech, regardless of the truth behind it, could be dismissed in court.
In other words, if Trump is being indicted for his speech regarding the Capitol riots, it could set a precedent for other lawmakers to be charged for their words.
Political scientists have long recognized the selective enforcement of law, and it appears this might be such a case. If Biden indeed wanted Trump “prosecuted,” either he failed to recognize the implications that could arise from such moves or he accepted the risk of what those implications could bring.
Either way, it appears the White House is standing by its story that Smith’s investigation is independent and unbiased. But whether Biden’s demands have been followed or not, the impact the investigation could have on the 2024 presidential race remains to be seen.
Look what was buried deep in the pages of the New York Times this April.
Joe Biden’s view of a prospective Trump indictment… pic.twitter.com/mFalcNRSYU
— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) August 5, 2023