15.04.2024

Jack Smith is using his past experience with autocrats against Trump

Former prosecutor Renato Mariotti has claimed Jack Smith is using insights he gained from his role at the Hague to bring Donald Trump to justice for his role in the 2020 efforts to overturn the election.

Mr Mariotti cited Mr Smith’s stint in the Hague, where he played a role in prosecuting authoritarian leaders prior to becoming the special counsel in the cases against Mr Trump.

“I think he understands the way an authoritarian can use these soft methods of increasing their power and staying in power,” Mr Mariotti said on Thursday on MSNBC to anchor Ari Melber.

“I think his experience prosecuting a sitting head of state, as you highlighted a moment ago, really prepared him for a moment like this. It shows when someone is desperate to stay in power, it’s important, ultimately, to find the way to bring him to account quickly, and I think that’s what he’s trying to do here.”

“Autocrats use propaganda,” Melber earlier said.

“That’s been true even as the nature of distribution has changed in many different eras. And propaganda is dangerous, precisely because you don’t have to physically oppress people. You don’t need weaponry if you trick enough of them into this or that position, whether that’s hating authoritarianism or groups.

“I want to play that other piece of footage where he Jack Smith makes a point – again, who could see how things echo.

“People have a choice of what they want to repost on Facebook or whatever platform they use. And I thought this was so striking that in a related context of both authoritarianism and ethnic hate, he talked about the ethical people who chose not to perpetuate things. Take a listen,” he said.

Melber then played the video clip.

“The accused, in committing their crimes, tried to amplify the damage they caused by exhorting the media in Kosovo to publish. The ethical journalists refused to publish the documents they provided them,” Mr Smith be heard saying in the clip.

“This question is as much societal as it is legal. I’m not talking about a repost or publisher’s liability. I’m asking you the deeper question about why you’re a prosecutor, why you care about justice, which is, what do you think of his appeal of how we all exercise our choices in the face of propaganda matters and how that relates at home right now?” Melber continued.

“It’s pretty profound,” Mr Mariotti replied.

“I have to say, I’m struck by the way in which he has an understanding of some of the softer ways in which people can exercise power.

“It’s such an interesting, different approach to Robert Mueller. Robert Mueller was very old school. He saw things, I think, in the way that – in a very black-and-white way that the Justice Department traditionally has.

“Jack Smith… he’s from a different generation. I think he understands the way an authoritarian can use these soft methods of increasing their power and staying in power.”

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