Fox News host Sean Hannity, an unofficial adviser to President Donald Trump and one of his fiercest defenders, dedicated a segment of his Thursday show to denouncing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who reportedly said in a private meeting this week that she wants to see the president jailed after he leaves office.
Hannity suggested that the tactic of imprisoning one’s political opponents is “despicable” and un-American.
A brief examination of the past several years reveals, however, that Hannity was among the most vocal proponents of jailing Trump’s 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton.
According to Politico, Pelosi told fellow House Democrats pressing her to move forward with impeachment proceedings on Tuesday, “I don’t want to see [Trump] impeached, I want to see him in prison.”
Pelosi so far has declined to move toward impeachment, as some of her colleagues have, and has chosen instead to work through the court system to build up a convincing case against the president first.
Trump has been accused of at least 10 instances constituting possible obstruction of justice, as detailed in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Other investigations into the president and his associates and businesses — including a probe of his campaign finances — are also ongoing.
Hannity on Thursday objected to Pelosi’s alleged comments, railing against the speaker and other Trump critics for wanting use the justice system for purely political ends.
“Based on no actual crime, she wants a political opponent locked up in prison,” he said. “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. Constitutional republic. Equal justice under the law. Equal application of our laws.”
Hannity’s newfound concern about the prosecution of political enemies contradicts much of what he has said since Trump and his surrogates began revving up crowds at 2016 campaign rallies to anti-Clinton chants of “Lock her up! Lock her up!”
After Trump was elected in November 2016, he contradicted his earlier promises to use his Justice Department to go after his former opponent and her family. “I don’t want to hurt them,” he said in a 60 Minutes interview. “They’re good people.”
In a rare case of daylight between Trump and his Fox News cheerleader, following the election, Hannity publicly broke with Trump and repeatedly made it clear that locking Clinton up was what he and other conservatives wanted to see.
In a June 8, 2017 episode of his show, Hannity said he strongly disagreed with Trump’s failure to launch an inquisition into Clinton. “[M]uch to my chagrin, to be perfectly blunt, and a lot of people that were chanting ‘Lock her up,’ he went on 60 Minutes and said, ‘Oh, they are good people. I don’t really want to pursue this. This is a distraction,'” he lamented. “A lot of conservatives like me were like, really? Equal justice under the law, although it wouldn’t be the president’s decision anyway.”
In November 2017, Trump, growing increasingly frustrated with Mueller’s investigation into Russian inference in the 2016 election on his behalf, began once again urging the Justice Department to investigate Clinton and her campaign.
Not long after, Hannity aired a clip on his show of a Trump rally at which supporters chanted “Lock her up,” in conjunction with a story about Clinton supposedly “stealing” the election from other Democrats.
“Those Trump supporters repeatedly calling for the prosecution of Hillary Clinton,” Hannity said, “now, they have been doing this now for a number of years. And last night, the president, he continued his call for the Justice Department to investigate Hillary Clinton — this following the bombshell allegation she stole, literally stole the election, the primary election from Bernie Sanders.”
In January 2018, he personally repeated the “lock her up” mantra. “I think Hillary should be in jail, lock her up,” he declared on his show.
Sean Hannity yesterday: Only in banana republics do they talk about locking up political opponents!
Sean Hannity in Jan. 2018 —
Tarlov: Trump said Hillary should be in jail
— Lis Power (@LisPower1) June 7, 2019
Twice this year, Hannity has raised the issue of investigating Clinton with Trump himself.
On March 27, during a phone interview with the president, Hannity asked whether Trump still felt the same way about Clinton as he did directly following the election.
“You, after the election — I remember, and I was a little surprised because I know that a lot of the crowds — and you’ve had a lot of big crowds who chanted ‘lock her up’ [about] Hillary. And after the election, you said, ‘You know what? Let’s move on,'” Hannity recounted. “Do you feel that way today?”
“No, not really,” Trump replied.
A month later, in April, Hannity again had Trump on his show, and pressed him once more on the topic.
“… After the election, [you] were basically saying let bygones be bygones, let’s not go down this road,” Hannity said. “Do you regret saying that and do you think now … we are really [going] to get to the bottom and the truth?”
Trump said that he did not regret it, adding that it was time to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation and anyone involved with it.
“… This was a coup. This was an attempted overthrow of the United States government,” he claimed. “We had people coming out to vote from all over this country that are in love with what we are doing. It’s called Make America Great Again. That’s what we have done and we are doing.”