Threats against prosecutors make my blood boil. Societies break down where prosecutors are threatened without condemnation or consequence.
Today’s publication of Episode Seven of the Alphabet Boys podcast series features a frightening 2020 assassination plot against Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. Listen as a racial justice protester scopes out Weiser’s house, telling Red, an FBI undercover agent, he wants to shoot Colorado’s top prosecutor when he’s “hoppin’ out his car.”
Thank goodness this plot fell apart. The would-be assassin was instigated by a manipulative violent felon named Mickey, who was also on the FBI payroll. Podcast producer/narrator Trevor Aaronson gained remarkable access to FBI undercover recordings.
No other spoilers here. All 10 episodes are excellent, as was my recent conversation with Aaronson, a veteran journalist.
No undercover microphones have been necessary to hear violent incitements by America’s defeated, twice-impeached former president. Prosecutions of Donald Trump are looming, with criminal charges anticipated soon in New York, Georgia and U.S. District Court. Trump’s defense strategy embraces demeaning and threatening any prosecutor bringing charges.
When Trump criticized Vice President Mike Pence at his Ellipse speech on January 6, 2021, the MAGA mob responded with gallows and the chant, “Hang Mike Pence.”
What will the chants be against Garland, Smith, Willis and Bragg? Will MAGA mobs disrupt judicial proceedings? How many scary days lie ahead based on Trump’s deliberate instigations and incitements?
Trump recently railed at CPAC against all his prospective prosecutors. Regarding newly elected Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, Trump told his fanatics, “This racist DA is being pushed by radical left Democrats, the fake news media and the Department of Injustice to bring charges against me for the now ancient, no affair, story of Stormy Horseface Daniels.”
As for first-term Fulton County Georgia DA Fani Willis, Trump lathered up his loyalists, “There’s the racist DA from Atlanta, whose city is among the most violent and dangerous places per capita in the country. More murders than even Chicago per capita. It’s totally out of control and yet she has her kangaroo court focused on a perfect phone call that I made.”
Some of us belittled with humor Trump’s repetitive claims that he made a perfect call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Unfortunately, Trump’s “repeat the lie” branding technique works with MAGA mobs.
During his impeachment trials, America’s former president directed grotesque personal attacks against impeachment prosecuting House Managers Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell. Recall Trump’s viciousness toward Republican Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, stalwarts of the House Select January 6th Committee.
Trump has already gone after Special Counsel Jack Smith. telling MAGA-broadcaster/attorney Mark Levin that prosecutor Jack Smith is “a terrorist” and should resign. In true mobster-style, Trump used his Truth Social to denigrate Smith and his family.
“Jack Smith(?), is a Trump Hating THUG whose wife is a serial and open Trump Hater, whose friends & other family members are even worse.”
Smith is not the only federal prosecutor to be targeted by MAGA-world. AG Merrick Garland must approve any Smith-recommended charges.
Recently, Fox News’ lead propagandist, Tucker Carlson, viciously attacked Garland as a liar who is corrupted by money and persecutes Christians. Carlson has used edited January 6 video footage to make claims that federal prosecutors and judges of MAGA insurrectionists are “the real villains.”
Trump’s Mar-a-Lago dinner with Jew haters Kanye West and Nick Fuentes had a purpose. Garland, who is Jewish, will be extra-targeted accordingly when federal charges are initiated.
Fired former Colorado prosecutor Jenna Ellis fresh off a public censure for serial MAGA misrepresentations, maintains a huge Trump-worshiping audience. On her Salem show and substantial social media, we witness Ellis defend Trump by impugning the motives and character of fellow attorneys who have the courage to prosecute him.
On Sunday, Ellis tweeted that Garland is “a hack.” This followed her infamous Thursday tweet mocking Sen. Mitch McConnell’s fall and concussion. She’s got some nerve. And she’s still got her Colorado-approved law license.
Authoritarians hate honest, smart and coordinated law enforcement. Prosecutors dedicated to truth-telling don’t last long with authoritarians in charge.
When disgraceful President Richard Nixon wanted to get away with Watergate in 1973, he removed several prosecutors.
When Russian attorney Sergei Magnitsky was prepared to show the corruption of Vladimir Putin, he was imprisoned and killed in 2009.
As attorney Alberto Nisman was ready, in 2015, to show Argentine-Iranian complicity in the 1994 Buenos Aires’ JCC mass murder, authoritarians had him killed.
In 2023, the lead prosecutor of increasingly authoritarian Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces threats to herself and her children, which have nearly caused her resignation.
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Leaders set the tone. Wendy Patrick, a renowned threat assessment expert for American prosecutors, told me: “Within our contemporary culture of political divisiveness, prosecutors of all types are routinely subjected to threatening rhetoric both on and offline — particularly those who charge public figures, from elected politicians to political protesters.”
Society needs great prosecutors. Their power is enormous. Some talented people won’t do this critical job if it means danger and harassment.
Defendants don’t enjoy prison. Defense attorneys don’t like losing. Claims of prosecutorial misconduct are commonplace.
But politicians whipping up mobs with wild rhetoric against prosecutors is relatively new in America. It’s dangerous. It must be condemned.
Craig Silverman is a former Denver chief deputy DA. Craig is columnist at large for The Colorado Sun and an active Colorado trial lawyer with Craig Silverman Law, LLC. He also hosts The Craig Silverman Show podcast.
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