Right-wing talk radio host Hugh Hewitt, who initially opposed Donald Trump’s first run for president only to become a strong supporter, is being highly criticized over his remarks attacking Special Counsel Jack Smith and Tuesday’s indictment of the ex-president for his alleged actions to overturn the 2020 election that he lost. Among Hewitt’s claims: the case “ought to be vomited out by the judicial branch,” and “”Show trials are only choreographed in Stalin’s Russia.”
Trump was charged Tuesday with conspiracy to defraud the United States, witness tampering, conspiracy against the rights of citizens, and obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding.
Hewitt, who held numerous positions in the Reagan administration and now sits on the board of directors of the Richard Nixon Foundation, is widely considered an influential thought leader among conservatives.
Moments after Jack Smith announced Donald Trump had been indicted on those four federal criminal charges, Hewitt attacked the Special Counsel, who until now has been best-known for prosecuting war criminals at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Hewitt compared Smith to Inspector Javert, the fictional character in Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel “Les Misérables,” who relentlessly prosecutes a man for stealing a loaf of bread.
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“Jack Smith, an American Javert, should be obliged to prosecute this case outside of the Beltway,” Hewitt declared, pushing a point numerous Trump supporters have now promoted.
“Former President Trump deserves a fair trial on these unprecedented charges which will strike tens of millions of Americans as a political witch hunt,” Hewitt declared early Tuesday evening, invoking the very language Trump has used for years to describe every investigation he has faced.
“Maybe you should read the indictment first,” replied Norman Ornstein, the noted political scientist and emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “Apparently for you it is wrong to pursue charges against somebody who incited a violent insurrection against the constitution and the government of the United States.”
“Hugh Hewitt,” Ornstein added, “calls Jack Smith an American Javert. Apparently, to him, inciting a violent insurrection and encouraging the assassination of the vice president is the equivalent of stealing a loaf of bread.”
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Some responded with efforts to debunk the claim Trump cannot get a fair trial in Washington, D.C.
“What am I missing?” asked human rights attorney and activist Paula Cobia. “How is the latest #TrumpIndictment a ‘political witch hunt?’ ALL the witnesses who testified before the Grand Juries are Republicans. Not Democrats. Not Independents. All Republicans. That makes these indictments the polar opposite of a political witch hunt.”
Professor of law Steve Vladeck, and expert in national security law, responded by quoting the U.S. Constitution: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law . . . .”
In another, and this time lengthy rant early Wednesday morning, Hewitt declared the case should “be captioned Beltway v. Trump or TDSS v Trump as it brought by and b/c of TDS Society members and greeted w/ zealots’ frenzy on the left.”
TDS generally stands for “Trump derangement syndrome,” a frequent attack by Trump supporters against those who oppose the ex-president.
“I’ve read the indictment of course and am astonished this rehash of everything already known (plus a few small details not previously known such as Paragraph 83) was allowed to escape DOJ in the guise of an indictment –to the great damage of the nation now and in the future– even by the aging, trembling AG. Jack Smith, the American Javert, is the tool the TDS-afflicted have long sought.”
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He again called for the trial to be moved out of Washington, D.C. and also “vomited out by the judicial branch.”
“Pray the judicial branch has the courage to bat it away and stand for the rule of law, and failing that, to move the venue far from the swamp to avoid the scar on our history of a show trial in, by and for The Beltway. This attempt to criminalize erroneous suspicion that an election was stolen, or of trying novel though very weak theories, throwing a legal Hail Mary or even holding a rally with irresponsible rhetoric which did not approach much less cross the line of Brandenburg v Ohio is without precedent and ought to be vomited out by the judicial branch so as to avoid its repeat in the future.”
Hewitt was far from finished.
“The very idea that false claims in politics are now criminal acts is stunning,” he declared, a claim legal experts have made clear is not what Trump is being charged with. “It is also sweeping, cannot be limited and has vast and sinister implications down the years ahead. ‘I have the defendant; find me the crime’ is now the rule. Every previous objector to every previous election –2016, 2004, 2000– should be relieved that statutes of limitations have passed. Only the new caste of Javerts –obscure zealots who can be tabbed ‘seasoned, career prosecutors’– are now standing ready to prosecute whomever the power in power wants removed from the scene. ‘Oh but Trump is uniquely bad and 1/6 happened’ is a fool’s mirage. ‘Unleashing the furies’ has never had a better example.”
Attorney and professor of philosophy and law David Koepsell:
The false claims aren’t what’s criminal, Hugh. You are lying. Planning to use the instruments of government to subvert the peaceful transfer of power: that’s illegal.
HuffPost White House correspondent S.V. Dáte responded, writing that if Trump “could be charged criminally for just lying, he’d be in a Supermax for thousands of years. He was charged for leading a conspiracy to defraud the United States and for his using his office to deprive millions of people of their votes.”
“I hope the charges brought by the American Javert are thrown out, but the TDS Dead Ender Coalition should listen carefully to what [Trump attorney] John Lauro told [Fox News’] @BretBaier last night: The former president will be subpoenaing everyone who had anything to do with the unusual circumstances of the 2020 election in order to prove his genuine suspicion of the process, which I think means everyone from Mark Zuckerberg who provided the ‘Zuck Bucks’ to the PA Supreme Court to the ’51 former Intelligence Community members’ who signed the ‘laptop is Russian disinformation letter’ to the old execs at Twitter who suppressed the @NYPost story to Hunter and President Biden and on and on and even perhaps to all participants in the Steele Dossier ought to clear their calendars for whenever the trial is scheduled.”
“Show trials are only choreographed in Stalin’s Russia,” he continued. “Lauro made clear this one –if it begins– is going to explore every corner of the 2020 election with former President Trump empowered to subpoena everyone who can help prove his innocence.”
Politico senior legal affairs reporter Kyle Cheney told Hewitt, “This is not how any of this works, of course. Trump can vow to subpoena everyone under the sun but, aside from getting credulous headlines, the odds of testimony from these far-flung randos being admissible and relevant to this case are… nil.”
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