The indictment of a former U.S. president drives ratings and clicks, but at its core it's the continuation of a pattern that goes back to the Barack Obama administration, author and media figure Todd Starnes told American Family Radio Tuesday morning.
"They weaponized the Internal Revenue Service to go after pro-life groups, tea party groups, and of course many Christian ministries, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association," Starnes told show host Jenna Ellis.
Franklin Graham, the president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief organization, wrote a personal letter to Obama in 2013 in which he alleged intimidation after IRS audits in 2012 of both organizations.
Starnes said he himself was twice audited by the IRS during Obama's eight-year run as president.
The indictment brought against Trump by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is the tip of the spear, but Starnes pointed out harassment reaches citizens with far lower profiles who all have something in common: conservative views.
"It's important to understand the lead up to where we are with Alvin Bragg right now. For the past year and a half, we have seen the weaponized Justice Department going after pro-lifers, knocking down their doors, dragging them out with armed FBI agents. We've seen them going after moms and dads who dared to raise issues at their school boards," Starnes said.
Starnes argued that Graham's earlier charge of intimidation by the Obama administration was fair, accurate and continues today. The federal government, he says, is suppressing free speech.
"This is all about bullying and intimidation. The message is very clear. The government wants you to think long and hard, that the next time that you say something that might be contrary to the beliefs of the mainstream media or the Democrat party, that if you do that there could be a knock on your door in the dark of night," Starnes said.
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Starnes sees the weaponization of government as the first stages of an effort to fully embrace socialism in America. He compared this time in America to Venezuela's move to socialism under Hugo Chavez.
"The first thing they had to do was neutralize the church within the nation to really prepare and lay the groundwork for a godless government to take root," Starnes described. "When you look broadly at what's been happening in our nation right now, the attacks on our values, the attacks on the churches … ultimately this is meant to weaken our nation."
As 'Indictment Watch' played out in late March, some speculated that Trump's campaign team hoped for indictment to use it as a spark and rallying point for supporters. Indeed, the first days after the March 30 indictment saw donations in excess of $5 million after fund-raising had been lackluster before.
In this case the weaponization of government and the "Get Trump" zeal of Democrats has backfired, Starnes said.
"When you look at the ABC news poll that just came out, I think everybody understands what this is really all about. And at the end of the day, I really don't think this hurts the [former] president one iota," Starnes said.
Trump is in a Manhattan court room today where he is expected to plead not guilty to multiple charges brought by Bragg.