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Why it matters that Trump wants to see Jack Smith get ‘arrested’

What's more important than Donald Trump's latest whining about Jack Smith? The fact that the former president wants to see the special counsel arrested.


Over the course of the last couple of years, Donald Trump has, from time to time, shared a few unkind words about special counsel Jack Smith. The former president has, for example, referred to the prosecutor as a “thug” in a “mental state of derangement.”

The Republican has also condemned the special counsel as a “mad dog psycho.” He’s also accused Smith of being an “animal” and a “lunatic.” At one point, Trump suggested the special counsel’s investigation was “treasonous” and deserving of “sanctions.”

With this in mind, it didn’t come as a big surprise over the weekend when the presumptive GOP nominee delivered remarks at a closed-door donor retreat, at which point he called Smith an “evil thug” and “deranged.” A Washington Post report added that Trump went on to tell his audience that he believes the prosecutor is a “f---ing a--hole.”

The former president, in the same comments, said the fact that he’s facing multiple criminal indictments “doesn’t bother me.” Yeah, sure it doesn’t.

But while Trump’s hysterical whining about Smith reflects the Republican’s apparent fear and anxiety, it’s par for the course. What was arguably more important was something Trump wrote to his social media platform late Friday night. Newsweek reported:

Donald Trump has called for Special Counsel Jack Smith to be arrested after the prosecutor’s team said some evidence in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case are no longer in their “original, intact” form.

Specifically, the former president wrote, “ARREST DERANGED JACK SMITH. HE IS A CRIMINAL!”

He’s been gradually moving in this direction for a while. Early last year, for example, for reasons unknown, Trump published a lengthy online tantrum that said Smith “may very well turn out to be a criminal.”

Evidently, 16 months later, Trump has made up his mind — and he now wants authorities to “arrest” the special counsel.

To be sure, those familiar with the Republican’s routine online meltdowns might not find this especially surprising. After all, the former president tends to define “criminal” as “people Trump doesn’t like.”

The trouble is, there’s a very real possibility his palaver will, early next year, become presidential directives. Axios reported last month, for example, “Trump has vowed retribution against his enemies if he wins in November. ... [P]eople close to Trump are still plotting to use the Justice Department against Biden and his family.”

If Team Trump intends to use federal law enforcement to go after the Biden family, it stand to reason that there would be plenty of other names, including Smith's, on the enemies list.

We can say with some certainty that Trump wanted to prosecute his perceived political foes during his first term, in part because his former White House chief of staff has said as much on the record. Even former Attorney General Bill Barr said he expects Trump to "weaponize" the Justice Department if he returns to the White House for a second term.

With this in mind, I don’t much care whether he calls Smith foolish names, but I do care that the former president wants to see the special counsel arrested.

This post updates our related earlier coverage.