For years, many of us have criticized Donald Trump for his signature campaign mantra of “Lock her up” against Hillary Clinton. Now, however, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) seems to be adopting a “Lock him up” pledge to jumpstart her campaign, which remains struck around fifth in the pack. Last week, Harris pledged to prosecute Trump. This morning, she said her Justice Department would have “no choice” but to prosecute Trump after he left office.
Harris has been one of the most vocal critics of Trump’s relations with the Justice Department, objecting that he has failed to recognize the independence of the Department in making prosecutorial decisions.
Yet, this morning, Harris insisted that “I believe that they would have no choice, and that they should. Yes. There has to be accountability.”
She seems to be referencing an obstruction case despite the fact that the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General have already made the prosecutorial decisions that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal charge. Harris is suggesting that her Justice Department would “have no choice” but to reverse that prior decisions and prosecute even though no new evidence has been produced since the release of the Mueller report.
That is a rather curious pledge for a new and independent Justice Department. Moreover, as a longtime criminal defense attorney, I would relish the opportunity to defend on a case that was expressly rejected as insufficient for prosecution but then flipped with the entry of a new administration from the opposing party.
Before “lock him up” becomes the alternative mantra in this election, the Democrats need to consider if they are objecting to Trump’s approach on the principle or merely the subject of his pledge to prosecute his political opponents.