Home history recent Trump Trump is Charged Under a Law Meant to Suppress Political Opposition
Home history recent Trump Trump is Charged Under a Law Meant to Suppress Political Opposition

Trump is Charged Under a Law Meant to Suppress Political Opposition

A year after the start of WWI, President Woodrow Wilson addressed his message to Congress and warned that the “gravest threats against our national peace and safety” did not come from “other governments”, but from “within our own borders”.

“Citizens of the United States,” Wilson continued, “born under other flags but welcomed under our generous naturalization laws to the full freedom and opportunity of America, who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life.”

Wilson, a notorious racist and a supporter of the KKK who had contempt for a wide variety of other peoples, likely had German immigrants, but not just them, in mind when he called for what would become the Espionage Act so that “we may be purged of their corrupt distempers.”

“I need not suggest the terms in which they may be dealt with,” Wilson concluded.

While there were indeed pro-German terrorist conspiracies in those days, including the Black Tom bombing which damaged the Statue of Liberty and a plot to infect the country’s horses, the Espionage Act of 1917 went far beyond prosecuting criminal activities. Wilson had sought, but not received, the power to censor the press, he did get the power to censor the mail.

Most of those prosecuted under the Espionage Act were not terrorists, but political opponents of the war. They included leftist socialists like Charles Schenck whose Supreme Court case birthed the misleading cliche about “shouting fire in a crowded theater”, as well as Robert Goldstein, a filmmaker whose crime was making a movie, ‘The Spirit of ’76’, about the American Revolution.

Also prosecuted under the Espionage Act were members of the Watch Tower Society for their religious pacifism. This was described as almost “the only time in American history when almost all the leaders of a denomination were in jail”.

When former President Trump was indicted under the Espionage Act, he was being targeted by a law that from its very inception had been created to suppress the political opposition. While elements of the Espionage Act were watered down over the years and only media hacks still quote “shouting fire in a crowded theater” as if it were standing law, that hasn’t really changed.

Widely loathed by liberals and leftists, who were justly often the targets of it, the Espionage Act was mostly used against actual spies during the Cold War. That changed dramatically under Obama who dusted it off and used it to go after reporters and whistleblowers. A decade ago, the Obama administration used the Espionage Act to target FOX News reporter James Rosen.

The Espionage Act allowed Obama to use warrantless wiretapping to bust leakers who were in many cases acting as whistleblowers and trying to expose his administration’s misconduct.

The abuse of the Espionage Act against reporters foreshadowed Russiagate. Having realized how useful the package of national security tools could be against political opponents in the press, the Obama administration decided to go ahead and use them against Trump.

When Obama and Clinton associates in the Justice Department targeted Gen. Flynn for conducting preemptive diplomacy for the incoming Trump administration, they explored using the Espionage Act and the Logan Act. The current charges against Trump are not an unexpected development, they’re what Russiagate was always about.

Power corrupts. And once the Obama administration realized that it could use the Espionage Act to kill unfavorable stories in the media, it was obvious that its members would not stop until they had escalated to using it directly against political opponents from Gen. Flynn to Trump.

Leftists used to hate the Espionage Act, like all forms of government power, until they were able to take control of it. And then, instead of being targeted by it, they wielded it and, with the inevitably corrupt predictability of human nature, used it to settle political disputes.

There are any number of parallels between Woodrow Wilson and Joe Biden. Both men were parochial narcissistic racists who ran as moderates only to rule as radicals. And their public profiles seemed so absurd that their opponents had a bad habit of underestimating them.

In a foreshadowing of what could happen to Biden, Wilson became non-functional in office and the country was temporarily run by his wife, yet he went on dreaming of a third term in office.

Wilson, like Biden, might have also been thinking of using the Espionage Act to cover up his own corruption.

For nearly a decade, Wilson had been conducting a secret affair with another woman. Fearful of discovery, he sent her thousands of dollars, a fortune by today’s standards, and drafted a partial admission of guilt. Wilson had called for the Espionage Act earlier that year which would give his administration the authority to censor the mail. It would have been a convenient means of suppressing revelations about his affair that might have damaged his reelection campaign.

Fortunately for Wilson, former President Theodore Roosevelt, his 1914 election opponent, had dismissed the idea of exposing the affair. “No evidence could ever make the American people believe that a man like Woodrow Wilson, cast so perfectly as the apothecary’s clerk, could ever play Romeo,” Roosevelt, a barrel-chested man of action, had sneered.

By 1916, Republicans, stuck with the uninspiring candidacy of Charles Evans Hughes, appeared ready to take off the gloves and were trying to aggressively get hold of Wilson’s letters. The version of the Espionage Act that allowed Wilson to censor the mails, but not the press, may have been a compromise to protect the use of the ‘nuclear option’ of the affair.

Biden, likely unknowingly, followed in Wilson’s footsteps by deploying claims of foreign election interference to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story during the election.

The abuse of national security by Democrats to go after the political opposition is not a new phenomenon. It’s been underway for over a century with the Espionage Act.

Charging Trump under the Espionage Act is no accident: it’s a proud tradition. It’s also a deeply corrupt and illegal attack on the Constitution. But that’s the function that the Espionage Act has served for over a century under Democrats. Corrupt megalomaniacal Democrats like Wilson, Obama and Biden use claims of national security to illegally investigate their opponents.

And whether it’s Wilson’s affair with a married woman, Hunter Biden’s harem of Uber prostitutes, or Joe Biden’s money from China, the Espionage Act is a red flag for presidential corruption.

National security is legitimate when it protects Americans from foreign enemies, not when it’s used, as Wilson and Biden have, to target Americans under the facade of national security.

Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article previously appeared at the Center's Front Page Magazine.

Thank you for reading.


  1. Sarah Hardy22/6/23

    Thank you, Mr. Greenfield. I am, as usual, now better informed after having watched the monologue and then read the article.


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