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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Prominent Conservative Legal Experts Urge ‘Counter-Lawfare’ at D.C. Conference

"If we’re not going to become a banana republic, unfortunately, we’re going to have to use banana republic means...”

(Elias Irizarry, Headline USA) As Republicans across the country are threatened with arrests and legal action for their involvement in the campaign of former President Donald Trump and other right-wing causes, prominent conservative scholars gathered this week to introduce the concept of “revenge lawfare.”

They met under the banner of the National Conservatism conference, organized by the Edmund Burke Foundation in Washington D.C., in a panel labeled “Lawfare: the Criminalization of Politics.”

Several notable figures sought to address a question on many conservatives’ minds: How do Republicans grapple with the growing use of the legal system as a means of political warfare?

Among them was John Eastman, a former Trump attorney and current Fulton County co-defendant.

In addition to becoming a target of Fani Willis’s sweeping attempt to reclassify 2020 election challenges as a racketeering conspiracy, Eastman—a legal scholar at the Claremont Institute and former candidate for California attorney general—was indicted by leftist Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, and he was recently disbarred in the State of California.

“You have to understand we’re in a war,” Eastman said in response to an audience question about how other conservatives might hope to avoid similar fates.

The short answer, Eastman said, was they can’t.

“We don’t even have a country if George Washington and Sam Adams and them didn’t stand up,” he noted about the need to be ready for sacrifice. “They can’t be summer soldiers and sunshine patriots—only conservative when there’s not a cost to pay.”

John Yoo, former deputy assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel during the George W. Bush administration, as well as a professor of law at the University of California-Berkeley, opened the panel by introducing the concept of “counter-lawfare” as a means to restore the broken judicial system.

Yoo argued that in the United States’s nearly 250 years of existence, the country had largely avoided the slippery slope of utilizing the Department of Justice for political purposes.

Yet with the Obama and Biden administration having taken that undeniable step, there was no reversing course. The only way to halt it was to hold accountable those who were responsible, even if it meant responding in kind.

“We’ve never crossed this Rubicon of using prosecution to achieve our political ends,” Yoo said, referring to the prosecution of Trump and his allies. “The only way to get deterrence, when one side has crossed the Rubicon, is to be as tough on the other side as they’ve been on you.”

The panel proposed the creation of a sort of “mutually assured destruction” principle in lawfare. In essence, Republican district attorneys and other prosecutors must reciprocate left-wing lawfare with similar charges against Democrats mirroring those to which blue states like New York have subjected Trump and his allies.

The panel alluded to Willis’s prosecution of Trump aides using RICO charges, which were created to combat the influence of the Mafia by allowing the designation of certain groups as “criminal enterprises.” By the Left’s use of the statute, they have designated the entire Trump presidential campaign as a criminal enterprise, and the same can now be done against Democratic campaigns.

“You have to retaliate against them in exactly the same way until you get some deterrence,” Yoo stated. “If we’re not going to become a banana republic, unfortunately, we’re going to have to use banana republic means.”

Two speakers—Mike Howell, executive director of the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project, and Will Chamberlain of the Internet Accountability Project—noted the colossal failure of conservatives to stand by their own in the aftermath of Jan. 6.

The two argued that the conservative legal movement sought instead to capitalize on the misfortune of arrestees—saddling defendants with debt instead of supporting them.

“The conservative movement’s legal response to Jan. 6 victims was profit maximization,” Howell said.

“They charged exorbitant legal fees for young staffers caught in the crosshairs and facing $10k in charges just for being present on Jan. 6,” he added. “A movement cannot survive much longer if criminal defense is that expensive.”

The panel noted the support that Democrats have provided to their own activists in the past, especially following the Black Lives Matter riots in 2020, when Vice President Kamala Harris raised money for the bail of rioters.

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