Last week, the country’s main opposition leader was hit with a new prosecution that could see him serve an effective life sentence in prison.
The charges were vague, and political in nature. He was accused of inciting extremism and encouraging other people to break the law. He is being railroaded through a judicial system that is deferential to the government. He cannot appeal to public opinion in his own defense: the country’s media are hostile to him, and he has been censored on most platforms in any case.
The country in question was not the United States, but Russia. The opposition leader was not Donald Trump, but Aleksey Navalny. Yet increasingly, it is difficult to tell the difference between the two, at least when it comes to the administration of justice. The Biden administration has gone further than Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime: while Navalny has been given decades of prison time, the latest charges against Trump include a “civil rights” charge that carries a potential death sentence.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken had the chutzpah to post a message on Friday denouncing Russia for “politically motivated” charges against Navalny. He added: “The Kremlin cannot silence the truth. Navalny should be released.”
Meanwhile, Blinken’s own government had just charged Trump, the leading opposition candidate in next year’s election with vague charges that even sympathetic legal observers said were overly political, and infringed on crucial freedom of speech protections.
On Friday, Special Counsel Jack Smith asked the judge in the case — a Democrat appointee known for her antipathy toward Trump supporters, described as the “the worst judge he could’ve gotten” — to silence Trump’s voice on his own social media network. So the Biden administration is trying not only to jail, and potentially execute, its rival, but to stop him from speaking out in his own defense.