Former federal prosecutor spells out why Merrick Garland may never indict Donald Trump

Former federal prosecutor spells out why Merrick Garland may never indict Donald Trump
Judge Merrick Garland in 2016, the White House.

Probably the number one question Democrats are asking themselves today, on the one-year anniversary of Merrick Garland's appointment to lead the Justice Department is: “Why hasn’t Attorney General Merrick Garland indicted former president Donald Trump?”

Given all of Trump's transgressions -- the Stormy Daniels payoff, the "perfect" call with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, pressuring Georgia election officials to "find" more votes for him, absconding with classified documents as he decamped to Mar-a-Lago - many are frustrated that he hasn't yet been in handcuffs.

But as former federal prosecutor Michael Stern writes in an opinion piece in today's New York Daily News, moving against Trump is a very, very complicated task. He writes: "I get why people are angry; I count myself among them. It’s fair to say that any ordinary citizen who committed similar offenses would have been swiftly indicted by the Justice Department. Want proof? Look at the 750 Capitol rioters who have already been arrested. They are minions compared to the man who instigated the attack and on whose behalf they acted — the man the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot recently referred to as a member of a 'criminal conspiracy.'"

Stern continues: "But, having worked as both a state and federal prosecutor and as a defense attorney, I know that there are Justice Department considerations in play beyond a simple analysis of whether there is sufficient evidence to indict Trump on criminal violations. Every competent prosecutor knows why Garland and the Department of Justice have not indicted Trump. I’m going to say it out loud."

His theory is that If Trump were charged with a federal crime, he almost certainly would not negotiate a plea deal, as is the case in 98 percent of U.S. criminal cases. Instead, he would fight, go to trial and make every step of the process a platform to cast himself as a victim of a vindictive Biden administration. And he would use the spectacle as yet another money-making grift.

Another factor in DOJ's calculations: despite the mountain of evidence that would convict most people many times over, Trump would not be convicted. Criminal convictions require a unanimous verdict and on a 12-person jury, there are going to be Trump supporters.

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