In response to the criminal charges against New Jersey Democratic senator Bob Menendez, liberals, and some prominent Ron DeSantis supporters, have collectively mocked Donald Trump’s claim that he is being targeted by a weaponized justice system. But the prosecutions of Trump and Menendez have nothing in common, and efforts to conflate the two are disingenuous.
Menendez is a criminal in the ordinary sense of the term, whereas Trump is an enemy of a political regime. These are two very different things. The comically flagrant corruption of which Menendez is accused, involving gold bars, a Mercedes Benz, Egyptian arms sales, and a halal meat monopoly, is a far cry from the cooked-up charges that Democrats are using to harass Biden’s chief political rival (who happens to be surging in the polls). There is another important distinction: Democrats have much to gain from prosecuting Trump, and little to lose from going after Menendez, a senator in a safely blue state. In fact, doing so helps Democrats counteract Trump’s argument about corruption in the justice system. “See?” they say. “Democrats take corruption seriously. No one is above the law.”
Democrats are aware of the potency of Trump’s claims. Roughly half of voters believe Joe Biden is a criminal, but the DOJ has assiduously shielded him and his family from consequences. A search of Biden’s guest house was blocked before the 2020 election because assistant U.S. attorney Lesley Wolfe didn’t like the “optics.” Word has it that Hunter Biden had a mugshot taken in July, which, of course, the public has not seen. Meanwhile, Trump is faced with four clearly coordinated indictments, all brought by prosecutors aligned with Biden. The very idea that there is nothing political about this scenario is absurd.
A Department of Justice that will bend over backwards to shield the president and torment his enemies is a DOJ that will throw an ally under the bus, if it means the greater good of the party. Menendez is accused of real crimes; but the overwrought condemnation of Adam Schiff, an unscrupulous, hardcore partisan and vehement Biden apologist, is a clear sign that the real problem for Menendez is losing favor. “The allegations in the indictment of Senator Menendez are shocking. If accurate, they represent the most profound betrayal of his oath of office,” Schiff wrote. “He’s entitled to the presumption of innocence and will have his day in court. But the gravity of the matter demands his resignation.”
Only a child would say this spectacle of outrage is motivated by the high moral character of Schiff and his party. This is political theater, with the clear aim of legitimizing a witch hunt against Biden’s chief rival. A similar effort to muddy the waters is underway with the Hunter Biden probe. The evidence of political interference here is simply overwhelming. The white-collar yes-man in charge of the investigation, David Weiss, had to be pressured just to offer Hunter Biden a sweetheart plea deal with no jail time and blanket immunity from charges. When it unraveled in court, Weiss pursued gun charges, which, as many have observed, conveniently avoid the politically sensitive question of Joe Biden’s role in an international money laundering scheme. But the charges allow Biden’s party to pretend that impartial justice is at work, and that’s what counts.
Menendez’s crimes are hardly less brazen than the venal misdeeds of “the big guy,” which have been studiously ignored by Democrats, prosecutors, and a compliant press shouting “no evidence,” texts, e-mails, and bank records be damned. When Devon Archer confirmed that Joe Biden spoke with foreign oligarchs on speakerphone, Democrats called it an “illusion of access” and suggested Biden just wanted to talk about the weather.
Democrats will go to shameless extremes to defend their own. They are just as ruthless about dispatching allies who outlive their use. Recall, Andrew Cuomo was Tony Soprano before he found himself being tossed headfirst into a woodchipper. At the peak of #MeToo hysteria, Democrats made a sacrificial offering of Al Franken. Menendez, it appears, is the latest victim of their ambitions.