'Unhinged' Donald Trump 'Rant' May Have Been Warning He Plans To Prosecute Political Enemies, Journalist Says

Donald Trump, on Tuesday, fired off a six-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that was widely condemned as "deranged," "unhinged," and "insane." The letter contained a long list of grievances over what now looks certain to be his impeachment, with a House of Representatives vote scheduled for Wednesday.

But one investigative journalist who covered the Robert Mueller investigation of Trump closely suggested on her Twitter account that there may have been a more deliberate and sinister message behind Trump's letter — a letter he described as being written "for the purpose of history and to put my thoughts on a permanent and indelible record." The letter is available online via the White House site.

"On the unhinged rant," wrote journalist Marcy Wheeler on Twitter.

"Why do people think this is an expression of fury rather than a warning he's about to start prosecuting the opposition party?"
The letter contained what could be seen as a veiled threat to prosecute Democrats. In one passage, Trump writes that the House impeachment proceeding against him is "no more legitimate than the Executive Branch charging members of Congress with crimes for the lawful exercise of legislative power."

In the letter, Trump also accuses Pelosi of "declaring open war on American Democracy" and using impeachment only as a way to "overturn" the results of the 2016 election.

But even if Trump were removed from office via impeachment, the results of the election would not be overturned because Vice President Mike Pence — who ran on the same ticket as Trump and received the same number of votes — would become president as soon as Trump leaves office.

Demonstrators call for Donald Trump's impeachment.
Getty Images | Stephanie Keith
Demonstrators in New York City call for Donald Trump to be removed from office on Tuesday.

Wheeler's suggestion that Trump may be contemplating politically-motivated prosecutions of Democrats appears to be supported by Trump's own prior statements. He has accused California House member Adam Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee and led the impeachment inquiry hearings, of "treason," and even appeared to suggest that Schiff be put to death for the supposed crime.

According to a New York Times report, Trump, in 2017, attempted to order the Department of Justice to pursue prosecutions of two perceived adversaries — his 2016 election opponent Hillary Clinton, and James Comey, the FBI director fired by Trump on May 9, 2017.

Exactly what charges Trump hoped to level against Clinton and Comey remains unclear, The Times reported. But then-White House Counsel Don McGahn was able to talk Trump out of the political prosecution scheme. According to the Times reporting, the White House lawyer informed Trump that ordering prosecutions of his political enemies could be seen as an abuse of power, and lead to his impeachment.