Independent journalist and author Matt Taibbi told Newsmax on Friday that the Department of Justice is ignoring public optics and that people are going to see that the 37-count indictment of former President Donald Trump "is politicized."
While appearing on "Rob Schmitt Tonight," Taibbi said, "If you're going to take the extraordinary and extreme step of indicting the probable nominee of your opposition party, the case has to meet two tests: It has to be extremely serious, and it has to be pretty airtight."
The indictment of Trump Thursday — in which the former president was accused of risking some of the country's most sensitive security secrets with his handling of unclassified documents after leaving the White House in 2021 — "doesn't really meet that standard," Taibbi said. "Neither does the Manhattan case."
A Manhattan grand jury in March indicted Trump following a probe into hush money he paid to porn star Stormy Daniels. That indictment made him the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges even as he makes another bid for the White House in 2024.
While discussing Trump's latest indictment, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Taibbi said the Trump administration played it "smart" in not pursuing criminal charges against Hillary Clinton over her 2015 email scandal. Clinton's use of a private email server for official public communications while she was part of the Barack Obama administration became a significant talking point during the 2016 presidential election. The FBI announced two days before the election that it would not recommend criminal charges against the former secretary of state and wife of former President Bill Clinton.
"They were smart to not pursue Hillary Clinton criminally over the email scandal, no matter what happened there, because the optics of that would have been horrible," Taibbi said. "In this case, they've just decided to ignore the optics. And they're going ahead with something that I think the ordinary person is clearly going to see is politicized."
The journalist then turned to the subpoenaed FBI document that reportedly alleges a $5 million bribery scheme involving Joe Biden when he was vice president; his son, Hunter Biden; and a foreign national. Though he explained that he needs to see the evidence, Taibbi said that "on the surface, it appears more serious" than the Trump indictment.
Taibbi said it would be "a different kettle of fish" if Trump were to be indicted over the Jan. 6 riots or preventing the transfer of power or intimidating voters in Georgia. However, in this instance, he believes "the people covering this in the mainstream press are of a mindset that the ends justify the means, and that it's actually necessary to prosecute Donald Trump in order to prevent him from getting into office."
"It doesn't work that way. Journalism doesn't work that way. You have to start with the facts and work backwards. ... They're doing it the other way."
As for the FBI document's allegations toward Biden, Taibbi added, "that's a serious offense if they managed to get it to the level of prosecution."
Turning his attention back to the mainstream media, the independent journalist agreed with host Rob Schmitt that the landscape has rapidly changed in a way he never conceived as possible.
"I think a lot of journalists of an older generation feel the same way," he said. "Once upon a time, most reporters didn't really care who was in office; if they were corrupt, if they did something wrong, we'd do the reporting.
"The idea that you would non-report something like the Biden story because it happens to be politically inconvenient would have been inconceivable, I think, in the mainstream press, even a dozen years ago.
"This is a totally new media environment," Taibbi said.
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