Jun 5, 2024 - Politics & Policy
Column / Behind the Curtain

Behind the Curtain: MAGA's jail plan

Illustration of the presidential seal on a flag, with the flag pole stylized as a sharp spear.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If former President Trump wins in November, top supporters will push him to investigate, prosecute — and even try to imprison — Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D), who won Trump's conviction in the hush-money case.

  • "Of course [Bragg] should be — and will be — jailed," Steve Bannon, one of the top voices of the MAGA movement, told us — saying for the record what many Trump supporters are privately plotting.

Why it matters: This column has reported extensively about all the norms Trump plans to shatter if returned to the White House. Nowhere would that be truer than at the Justice Department, which Trump wants to make his fief and retribution arm.

Bannon told us Bragg could be targeted using the 14th Amendment (equal protection) and Fourth Amendment (outlawing unreasonable searches and seizures by the government) "plus scores of other" laws.

  • Bannon told us he wants "investigations to include [Democrats'] media allies."

Another Trump insider pointed to a federal civil rights statute, "Conspiracy Against Rights."

  • Asked about how much more aggressive a second Trump term would be, Bannon pointed to "the evolution of any war — the Revolution," the Civil War, and World Wars I and II: "They only get nastier over time."

Reality check: Bragg, who's also prosecuting Bannon in a separate case scheduled to go to trial in September, is a state official who operates independently of the Justice Department and the federal courts.

The big picture: With Trump's conviction, "lawfare" — political warfare involving the courts — is one of the top issues animating the Trump faithful.

  • Asked about the signature cry of "lock her up" from Trump rallies in 2016, the former president said in a post-conviction interview on "Fox & Friends Weekend": "I could have done it. But I felt it would have been a terrible thing. And then this happened to me. And, so I may feel differently about it."
  • Last year, Trump vowed on his Truth Social platform to "APPOINT A REAL SPECIAL 'PROSECUTOR' TO GO AFTER THE MOST CORRUPT PRESIDENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE USA, JOE BIDEN."

What we're hearing: Of all the slots in a prospective Trump Cabinet, attorney general is where we've been told to watch for an aggressive, MAGA-diehard nomination.

  • "If you get the right person, it's like magic," Trump said on "Fox & Friends Weekend," while discussing the attorney general and other top officials in an administration.
  • "It's like in real estate: You know, you put a good super in a building, the building runs well. You put a bad one in, it doesn't. It's the same thing [on] a little bit — slightly larger scale."

What's next: Even before the election, House Republicans want to go after Bragg.

  • House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on Monday told Fox News Digital he's preparing an appropriations package that would "defund the lawfare activities" of state and federal prosecutors leading "politically sensitive investigations," including Bragg, special counsel Jack Smith and Fulton County (Ga.) District Attorney Fani Willis.
  • Jordan called last week for Bragg and one of his courtroom prosecutors, Matthew Colangelo, to testify June 13 before Jordan's Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. The topic: "the unprecedented political prosecution of President Trump."

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said this weekend on "Fox News Sunday" that the hearing's purpose "is to investigate what these prosecutors are doing at the state and federal level to use ... political retribution in the court system to go after political opponents, federal officials like Donald Trump."

  • "And we're going to look at Special Counsel Jack Smith," Johnson added, referring to the Justice Department official leading two federal probes of Trump. "We have the funding streams. We have mechanisms to try to get control of that."

Axios' Alex Thompson contributed reporting.

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