In the days since Donald Trump was convicted of 34 felonies in his criminal hush money trial, Republicans who view the case as politically motivated have coalesced around a new rallying cry: Prosecute the left.

Candidates, officeholders, and members of the former president’s family have amplified Trump’s calls for retribution against political enemies and urged their fellow Republicans to start charging Democrats with crimes.

“Time for Red State AGs and DAs to get busy,” Representative Mike Collins of Georgia wrote on the social platform X, formerly Twitter, after a Manhattan jury found Trump guilty.

Influential conservative activist Charlie Kirk urged Republican prosecutors to get “creative” in bringing charges: “Indict the left, or lose America,” he said on X.

In a podcast interview, Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., said, “We have to fight fire with fire.”

And the former president on Tuesday suggested he might try to retaliate against Hillary Clinton, his 2016 opponent, if he returns to the White House.

“Wouldn’t it be terrible to throw the president’s wife and the former secretary of state, think of it, the former secretary of state, but the president’s wife, into jail? Wouldn’t that be a terrible thing? But they want to do it,” Trump said in an interview on Newsmax. “It’s a terrible, terrible path that they’re leading us to. And it’s very possible that it’s going to have to happen to them.”

The calls to weaponize the judicial system against Democrats are a degree more intense than some other suggestions for retaliation that Republicans have made since the guilty verdict, such as calls to investigate the prosecutors in the Manhattan case or for voters to give their own verdict by sending Trump back to the White House in November.

They represent a show of loyalty to Trump, who has spent months calling the cases against him a form of partisan “election interference” and referring to President Joe Biden’s administration as “evil” and “corrupt.” They also signal a growing feeling among some Republicans that the felony conviction of a former president for falsifying business records to illegally influence an election crossed a boundary in judicial norms.

“What just happened today is a line we can’t uncross,” conservative talk show host Megyn Kelly said after Trump was found guilty. “And these Democrats will rue the day they decided to use ‘lawfare’ to stop a presidential candidate. I’m not talking about violence. I’m talking about tit-for-tat.”

In a post on X, Republican House candidate Brandon Gill of Texas lamented what he viewed as “raw power” rather than an “equally applied legal system” in the charges being brought against Trump: “Might makes right,” he said. “Republicans must wake up to the new reality and respond accordingly.”

The outcry comes as Trump and other Republicans have claimed, without evidence, that Biden and his administration were pulling the strings behind the New York trial. The case was led by a state-level prosecutor, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Biden addressed Trump’s attacks on the judicial system during a fundraiser on June 3 in Connecticut, calling them “dangerous for American democracy,” and noted that the former president was convicted in a state case rather than a federal one. Attorney General Merrick Garland criticized the idea that the federal government was involved as a conspiracy theory during an appearance Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee, calling it an attack on the judicial process.

“We do not control the Manhattan district attorney,” Garland said Tuesday. “The Manhattan district attorney does not report to us. The Manhattan district attorney makes its own decisions about cases that he wants to bring under his state law.”

In a June 4 interview with the far-right network Newsmax, Trump continued to claim he did not receive a fair trial, complaining that the jurors never smiled at him. He also threatened to prosecute his perceived foes, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had nothing to do with the verdict against him.

Trump falsely claimed he never called for the imprisonment of his 2016 election opponent, Hillary Clinton. This statement comes despite his repeated calls during the campaign for Clinton to be jailed, both through direct comments and by encouraging chants of “lock her up” at his rallies.

Trump’s remarks were made during an interview aired on Fox News, where he denied having personally used the phrase, attributing it instead to his supporters. However, the facts contradict Trump’s attempt to gaslight the public – as his threats were extensively documented in videos.

During his 2016 campaign, Trump frequently criticized Clinton over her email practices as Secretary of State, which were the subject of a federal investigation. Although she was never charged with a crime, Trump repeatedly called for her imprisonment.

At several rallies, he explicitly used the phrase “lock her up,” such as in North Carolina and Pennsylvania in October 2016. He also made similar statements using different wording, like at a June 2016 speech in California and during an October 2016 debate when he told Clinton, “Because you’d be in jail,” after she commented on his temperament.

After winning the election, Trump became ensnared in other criminal controversies and mostly ignored Clinton. However, during his 2020 reelection campaign, he resurrected the calls to “lock her up,” extending his accusations to the Biden family during a rally in Georgia in October 2020.

“We said in 2019 that if Trump lost, he would run again to avoid all the prosecutions against him. People saw this coming. For him to now say they are only coming after him because he is running for president actually has it backwards. He ran for president because he knew he was going to be prosecuted,” said Joe Scarborough, co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

Congressional Democrats condemned Republican calls to use the justice system to target Democrats as “reckless” and potentially dangerous to democracy. They said in interviews that such a reaction was uncalled for since Trump had a fair trial by jury and has the right to appeal.

“A jury of 12 people unanimously found that beyond a reasonable doubt he committed 34 crimes,” said Democrat North Carolina Representative Deborah Ross, the vice-ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. “That is entirely different than coming up with specious charges and having members of Congress dictate who should be sued in frivolous ways.”

Ali Swenson and MI Staff

Associated Press

NEW YORK, New York

Jason Allen (AP), J. Scott Applewhite (AP), Elizabeth Williams (AP), Brendan McDermid (AP), and Steven Hirsch (AP)