Fox News host Sean Hannity, who has done more than anybody (except perhaps Donald Trump himself) to push the narrative that Hillary Clinton should be locked up, now thinks such calls are something that only happens in “banana republics” — at least when they’re directed toward Trump.
For years, Hannity’s conspiratorial case for imprisoning Clinton has been a centerpiece of his shows; even after the 2016 election, he’s used that narrative to deflect from damaging revelations stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference and the Trump campaign’s role in it. As recently as April, Hannity was characterizing Clinton’s email server as “a real threat to our safety and security.”
All of this, of course, has been about Hannity’s staunch support for Trump, not good-faith concerns about abuse of power and the rule of law. But if you need proof, Hannity provided it during his broadcast on Thursday.
On the heels of Politico reporting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told senior Democrats she’d like to see President Donald Trump “in prison” during a meeting earlier this week, Hannity suddenly changed his tune about whether it’s appropriate to prosecute prominent politicians.
“Speaker Pelosi now apparently telling senior Democrats that she’d like to see Trump behind bars,” Hannity said. “Based on no actual crimes, she wants a political opponent locked up in prison? That happens in banana republics — beyond despicable behavior. And by the way, they would literally turn, in many ways, the USA into a country we no longer recognize.”
Compare Hannity’s comments on Thursday to what he said in January 2018, when he said “I think Hillary should be in jail. Lock her up.”
Beyond the obvious hypocrisy, Hannity is wrong to say Pelosi’s comment was based on “no actual crimes.” Mueller’s final report did not come to a conclusion about whether the president had or had not obstructed justice, but it did examine 10 specific instances of potential obstruction. As Mueller made clear both in his report and when he read a statement summarizing his findings, the main thing saving Trump from prosecution wasn’t a lack of evidence but rather Justice Department policy holding that sitting presidents can’t be indicted.
And while Hannity decries politically motivated prosecutions, “lock her up!” chants remain a staple of Trump’s rallies closing in on three years after the election.
In fact, during his most recent rally on May 20 in Pennsylvania, Trump’s attacks on Mueller and the FBI led to his supporters tweaking their familiar refrain and chanting “lock them up!”
Instead of trying to tamp down the chants, Trump indulged them, telling his audience that “we have a great new attorney general who will give it a very fair look.”
Trump’s comments came shortly after the “great new attorney general” he referred to, William Barr, hit back at Democratic leaders who accused him of lying under oath during his congressional testimony and seemed to threaten to investigate them, saying, “they may be concerned about the outcome of a review of what happened during the election.”
Predictably, Hannity cheered Barr’s comments as an illustration of how “Deep State accountability is coming!”