Leading Republicans and media figures says that’s exactly what’s happening in the charges brought against former president Donald Trump by a Manhattan grand jury.
Vivek Ramaswamy, a millionaire entrepreneur, author and candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination, told American Family Radio Wednesday that any change will require radical shifts in traditional ways of doing business.
He proposes complete overhauls or elimination of government bodies such as the FBI, IRS and Department of Education.
Trump is charged with falsifying business records with the intent to conceal “other” crimes related to the 2016 election.
Ramaswamy told show host Jenna Ellis that the contention of Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg that Trump’s alleged hush money payment to Stormy Daniels was illegal is wrong and that his case hinges on proving “other” crimes that he has yet to identify.
Sometimes a fig leaf is not enough
“He's really hanging on a fig leaf here. The entire prosecution rests on charging this as a felony by tying it to what he calls in the indictment, another crime,” Ramaswamy said. “Yet in the entire indictment, he does not say what the other crime was. If this wasn't for the existence of another crime other than falsifying business records, it would be a misdemeanor. It would've expired under New York's statute of limitations. So he couldn't have charged it. So the entire case rest rests on this mysterious other crime.”
Ramaswamy had two key points that he said highlighted the lack of substance in Bragg’s case.
“One is it reinforces the extent to which this is a politicized persecution through prosecution, reinforces that this is not the country that we want to live in or that we learned to pledge allegiance to as a country. We're not a country where the party in power uses police force to arrest its political rivals. That's exactly what's happening today,” Ramaswamy said.
The second point is that Republicans have failed to find answers for a familiar problem.
The weaponization of government is not new yet it continues. Republicans have identified the problem without finding solutions.
“We've observed this problem for the last decade, the corrupt administrative and police state, and yet here we are,” Ramaswamy said. “That’s actually the lesson. We need to move beyond just spotting the problem, just going through the grievance and the vengeance associated with that to actually a new level of leadership that addresses and solves that problem.”
The House of Representatives voted in January to establish a Judiciary subcommittee to address weaponization. The count was 221-211 in a straight party-line vote.
Majority leader Steve Scalise said then the new select subcommittee would serve to “protect every American’s Constitutional rights.”
The new committee also has the power to subpoena Bragg should it choose to do so.
Ramaswamy is basing his candidacy on putting teeth behind investigative measures, and he hopes voters will respond.
Ghosts of J. Edgar Hoover still around
“When you have an agency whose culture has become so corrupt, you cannot just reform it from above. You have to shut it down and replace it with something new to take its place,” he said. “I've said that I would shut down the FBI and build a new federal police apparatus that's actually fit for purpose. It’s still J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI.”
Ramaswamy has also taken aim at the IRS and the Department of Education.
“The IRS has been weaponized, you talk about going after Christian groups, going after conservative nonprofits,” he said.
Ramaswamy linked weaponization and other corruption with government under former president Barack Obama.
“You saw that under the Obama administration. That is a form of weaponizing government," he said. "I think some of this is standing on moral authority, too. I mean, you want to talk about hush money for sexual indiscretions? Well, guess what? Congress used $18 million plus of taxpayer money in the last quarter century, taxpayer money as hush money for sexual assault allegations, or sexual harassment allegations, against members of Congress. We need to deliver accountability there."
Ramaswamy said Trump was on the right path with his “America First” governing approach but he didn’t go far enough.
He sees his status as a political outsider as a plus just as it was for Trump in 2016.
“As much as Trump did over four years, we are where we are for a reason," Raraswamy told the AFR host. "He himself is suffering the consequences. Today I've been an outspoken critic of everything that's being done more so than any other Republican in this field because I think we need to actually exhibit spine and conviction of courage."