The FBI raid on Donald Trump’s residence, and the most recent indictment, have brought charges that the United States has become a Third World regime such as Cuba or Nicaragua.
The Marxist Sandinistas did persecute their political opposition and Cuba’s Fidel Castro subjected potential rivals such as Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa to a humiliating show trial, captured in Orlando Jimenez-Leal’s documentary “8A.” More relevant are the show trials staged by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in the late 1930s.
“The news of the Moscow Trials burst like a bombshell,” recalled the late Sidney Hook. The principal defendants were all Bolsheviks, Lenin’s comrades-in-arms who had previously been glorified as heroes of the October Revolution. The accused included Trotsky, Bukharin, Yuri Piatakov, Karl Radek, Nikolai Bukharin, Gregory Zinoviev, and Lev Kamenev, and “the charges were mind-boggling.”
These same Bolsheviks were accused of assassinating Sergei Kirov and planning the assassination of Stalin himself. They had also “allegedly conspired with the fascist powers, notably Hitler’s Germany and Imperial Japan, to dismember the Soviet Union.”
Stalin and his secret police controlled the trials from behind the scenes and the outcome was preordained. Stalin’s prosecutor, Andrei Vyshinsky, referred to the defendants as “a foul-smelling heap of human garbage” and Bukharin as “the damnable cross of a fox and a swine.” The accused “must be shot like dirty dogs!” and they were, replaced by a corps faithful to Stalin. As Hook recalled, the Moscow trials were also “a turning point in the history of American liberalism.”
High-profile liberals such as Corliss Lamont, Theodore Dreiser, Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker, Nathanael West, Newton Arvin, Malcolm Cowley and Granville Hicks perceived the trials as models of justice. In some cases, notably Corliss Lamont, praise for the trials and the U.S.S.R. “went beyond anything the Kremlin itself ever claimed.”
Defenders of Trotsky organized a “Commission of Inquiry Into the Truth of the Moscow Trials,” but it got a chilly reception from prominent liberals such as Roger Baldwin, founder of the American Civil Liberties Union. Joseph Davies, U.S. ambassador to the U.S.S.R., took the trials at face value and Walter Duranty of the New York Times, who covered up Stalin’s planned famine in Ukraine, claimed it was all true.
In similar style, the establishment media was all-in with the charge that Donald Trump had colluded with Vladimir Putin to steal the 2016 election. Deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe raised the possibility that Trump was a “Russian asset,” and Rep. Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee said Trump was “acting like a person who is compromised.”
As former FBI boss Robert Mueller confirmed, there was no collusion and Trump was not a Russian asset. Special Counsel John Durham has now confirmed that the Russia hoax was a product of the Hillary Clinton campaign, and fully abetted by the FBI. As this comes to light, Trump faces charges of mishandling classified information.
Biden’s DOJ alleges that Trump may have violated the Espionage Act by keeping classified documents at his residence. Hillary Clinton, and former Secretary of State Edmund Muskie have also harbored classified documents, without facing criminal charges.
Joe Biden has classified documents strewn about his garage, but the FBI never accused him of being “extremely careless” in handling “very sensitive, highly classified information,” in the style of Hillary Clinton. And of course, as James Comey explained, “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” As the people might note, the papers Biden donated to the University of Delaware have become inaccessible, even in the face of FOIA requests.
The Espionage Act criminalized dissent against U.S. involvement in World War I. Its invocation against Trump again raises the specter of conspiracy with “foreign powers,” the “Russian asset” charge, and so forth. This comes at a time when Donald Trump is the principal opponent of Joe Biden, not exactly tolerant of the opposition. As with the Moscow Trials, supporters reach for their bullhorn.
Adam Schiff, prime-time promoter of the Russia hoax, hailed the “stunning” detail of the indictment, showing that Trump had “malign intent.” The indictment was “another affirmation of the rule of law” and Trump “should be treated like any other lawbreaker.”
Democrat Stacey Plaskett, delegate from the Virgin Islands, said Trump “having the classified information for Americans and being able to put that out and share it in his resort with anyone and everything who comes through should be terrifying to all Americans.” According to Plaskett, Donald Trump “needs to be shot” which she quickly amended to “stopped.” That is hard to top but former Attorney General William Barr was up to the task.
“If even half of this is true, he’s toast,” Barr told reporters. Like police captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) in Casablanca, Barr claimed he was “shocked by the degree of the sensitivity of these documents, and how many there were.” The former president was peddling “big lies,” including his declassification authority, and claims that Trump is a victim are “ridiculous.”
Here we have a former Attorney General who suspends the presumption of innocence and judges a case before the trial. Barr also backed the unprecedented FBI raid on Trump’s residence, proclaiming “it’s also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information and put them in a country club, okay?” And in Barr’s view it was the government that was being “jerked around.”
As he explained in One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs of an Attorney General, Barr started his career with the CIA. The author praises Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who appointed Robert Mueller to investigate Trump.
“Few can appreciate the complexities Rod faced during that tumultuous time,” writes Barr, “and even fewer will know the important contributions he made to the administration and the country.” Barr also “made it clear that neither President Obama nor vice president Biden were in [John] Durham’s crosshairs.”
The people have a right to wonder if William Barr regards the current president and vice president as above the law. Jack Smith may be handling the case against Trump, but in William Barr, Joe Biden has a volunteer Vyshinsky.
For some, the proceedings evoke banana republics and Third World regimes. Stand a little closer and that Stalinist stank is wafting strong.