At the second night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, New Jersey governor and Donald Trump running mate also-ran Chris Christie took to the stage. Even though the topic for the evening was “Make America Work Again,” Christie instead did “something fun” and led the audience assembled inside the Quicken Loans Arena in a mock prosecution of Hillary Clinton “since the justice department refuses to” do so. But many on social media likened the display to a darker point in pre-American history: the Salem Witch Trials.
Christie, a former federal prosecutor, presented “evidence” assailing Clinton’s judgment during her time as secretary of state and her overall character. Issues included her handling of Libya, trade, Boko Haram, Iran, Syria, and others. To get a flavor of what the spectacle looked and felt like, watch the video clip below.
Christie presented his case for each issue and then asked the audience, “Guilty or not guilty?” The delegates on the floor zealously responded in unison each time, crying out “Guilty!” On a few occasions, they deviated from the back-and-forth Christie was leading to break into what has perhaps been the most popular catchphrase shouted at the convention thus far: “Lock her up!”
As many observers noted on social media, the theatrics bore a resemblance to historical descriptions of what the Salem Witch trials were like back in 1692 and 1693. Some posted video clips of depictions of the infamous trials. Others wondered if calls to burn Clinton at the stake would follow. Even CNN pundit Michael Smerconish made the connection to the grim 17th century legal proceedings.
Yep, this is how the American justice system works … If you're in Salem, Mass., circa 1692.
— Kate Brannen (@K8brannen) July 20, 2016
— OutFrontCNN (@OutFrontCNN) July 20, 2016
In terms of the content of the case Christie presented, The New York Times did a fact check of each point the New Jersey governor called out and found that his indictments were mostly fact-based, though they were “selective” and he was “often ignoring exculpatory evidence.”
Of course, Clinton got the last laugh with a tweet after the entire kangaroo court spectacle was complete, reminding everyone on Twitter that there’s an ethical case to be made against Christie.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 20, 2016