U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan addresses a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature in the House chambers on Feb. 7, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan addresses a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature in the House chambers on Feb. 7, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)

Opinion: Sen. Sullivan sinks to a new low

Last week, Sen. Dan Sullivan mimicked Donald Trump’s endless stream of baseless accusations that President Joe Biden has weaponized the justice system to bring him down. “There’s an old Soviet phrase,” he wrote. “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime! What’s happening in the Manhattan courthouse is looking eerily similar to the show trials Stalin launched against his political opponents.”

The trial in Manhattan is related to a porn star who claims to have had sex with Trump years ago. Late in his 2016 presidential campaign, she was paid $130,000 in exchange for not going public with her story. Trump allegedly agreed to falsely record the payment as a business expense. During the trial, the jury heard a recorded phone call which appears to tie Trump to another scheme to suppress a similar story.

Unlike Trump, Sullivan didn’t say the trial is “being carried out at Joe Biden’s order.” But he implied it. And even if the case is “weaker than any could have imagined,” Trump had defense attorneys who challenged the evidence presented in court and cross-examined the prosecution’s witnesses.

The prosecutor in Stalin’s first show trial submitted no evidence against the 16 defendants. There were no defense attorneys representing them. Torture was used to obtain confessions in which they admitted guilt to murdering the head of the Communist Party in Leningrad and conspiring with foreign powers in a plot to assassinate Stalin. The military judges who presided over the case sentenced them all to death.

Clearly, Sullivan’s comparison is beyond ridiculous. Especially as a former state Attorney General who swore an oath to “maintain the respect due to courts of justice and judicial officers” and “uphold the honor and maintain the dignity of the profession.”

By ignoring that oath, he almost stooped to the level occupied by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. On Tuesday the Georgia Republican known for making outlandish statements shared this with her followers: “The Biden DOJ and FBI were planning to assassinate Pres Trump and gave the green light” she tweeted. “Does everyone get it yet???!!!!”

Trump reposted that easily debunked garbage on his misnamed Truth Social app.

“How dumb can we be” Sullivan rhetorically asked several months ago when calling on Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) to end his hold on military promotions. Apparently much dumber than he thought.

Back then he was worried that Tuberville’s stunt was having an adverse impact on military readiness and suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin was “loving” it.

Well, it’s hard to believe that Putin isn’t enjoying the way Republicans are helping Trump denigrate our justice system. He can use it as evidence to show the Russian people that American democracy is corrupt.

And let’s not forget that Trump has almost singlehandedly destroyed trust in our elections.

He’ll never be able to make believe he won the upcoming election with 86% of the vote like Putin did. And he can’t control Democrats. But the purging of his party of almost every Republican who refuses to stand behind him has some similarities to the strongman tactics Putin uses keeps his minions in check.

And Putin probably recognizes the lack of political spine of most Republicans still in Congress. That includes those in the Senate who denounced Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection, then voted to acquit him after he was impeached for inciting it, and are now acting excited that he’s the party’s nominee for another term in the White House.

If Trump wins, he’ll likely fulfill his promise to pardon everyone who was convicted for participating in the insurrection. Since Sullivan doesn’t seem to have a problem with that, he must think even less of the related indictments against Trump.

Then there’s the case in which Trump is accused of obstructing the government’s attempt to recover classified documents he took to Mar-a-Lago. He falsely claimed they had all been returned. Court records unsealed this week reveal that five months after the FBI searched the place with a legally obtained warrant and found more, Trump’s legal team discovered additional classified documents in his bedroom.

The way the Republican Party has responded to all these indictments makes a better comparison with Stalin’s Russia. Like his communist stooges, they’re shamelessly putting their leader above the rule of law and lending credibility to his most absurd propaganda.

• Rich Moniak is a Juneau resident and retired civil engineer with more than 25 years of experience working in the public sector. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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