Is lawfare against the left the only means to restore norms?

Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2023. (Video screenshot)
Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2023.

[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by The Daily Signal.]

The key to blocking political lawfare is more political lawfare, legal experts regretfully asserted Monday at the National Conservatism conference in Washington.

Possible targets for conservative lawfare include Attorney General Merrick Garland and Kristen Clarke, the head of his Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, they said.

Since President Joe Biden’s administration, backed up by local and state prosecutors, has targeted former President Donald Trump and other conservative-leaning leaders, unilateral disarmament isn’t an option, law professor and former government lawyer John Yoo said.

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“Unfortunately in warfare, the only way to get someone who refuses to obey important norms is [that] you have to retaliate,” Yoo told conferees at the Capital Hilton. “So, if we’re not going to become a banana republic, unfortunately we are going to have to use banana republic means exactly the same way by conservative or Republican DAs, until they stop.”

Yoo later added that lawfare and warfare share one similar trait.

“The only way to encourage good behavior and return to norms is deterrence,” Yoo said.

John Eastman, a lawyer and senior fellow with the Claremont Institute, talked about his own situation of facing criminal charges and disbarment in California as Trump’s lawyer during the disputed aftermath of the 2020 election pitting Biden against Trump.

“This weaponization is not just designed to go after people who took political and constitutional positions is to send a message to everybody else, don’t you dare stand up against us, we will bring the full force govt on you as well,” Eastman said.

“If they steal the next election, and the one after that, and the one after that, they want to make sure they do away with the lawyers,” Eastman said of Democrats and the Left.

Mike Howell, executive director of The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project, said congressional Republicans and GOP state attorneys general for falling short in investigating the Left.

Howell said the conservative legal movement isn’t stepping up to defend conservatives who are being targeted by lawfare.

The Republican-controlled House, he said, effectively has funded the Biden administration’s prosecutions of political enemies as well as a border crisis that let millions of illegal aliens into the country.

Howell said the conservative base at times has been “too cheap a date.”

“We praise people for sending letters,” Howell said. “We praise them for holding hearings where they don’t even develop a record of asking hard questions. Their uncoordinated message only generates Twitter clips.”

Will Chamberlain, senior counsel at the Internet Accountability Project, presented a list of those on the Left who should face prosecution either by state prosecutors or—under a future Republican presidential administration—the Justice Department.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat, appeared to have lied under oath about her romantic relationship with Nathan Wade, her hired prosecutor in the Trump case in Georgia, Chamberlain said.

He noted that Garland, Biden’s attorney general, has been found in contempt of Congress for refusing to provide an audio recording of the president’s two interviews with special counsel Robert Hur about possessing classified documents from his vice presidential and Senate years.

Steve Bannon, a former top Trump aide, has gone to prison for being found in contempt of Congress.

Clarke, an assistant attorney general, lied under oath during her confirmation hearing, Chamberlain said, referencing a fact first reported by The Daily Signal.

“We should be willing to use this tool against those who used it against conservatives,” he said.

[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by The Daily Signal.]

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