'Nothing but hard choices': Why Trump’s political future may hinge on Merrick Garland

'Nothing but hard choices': Why Trump’s political future may hinge on Merrick Garland
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As the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) investigation into former President Donald Trump continues, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is quickly approaching a decision that could effectively alter the country's political structure.

According to a new analysis published by Bloomberg, Garland is facing a difficult decision regardless of the direction he opts to take. The analysis also highlights the results of a new poll related to prosecuting Trump ⁠— and it appears the nation is, once again, split.

"Garland has nothing but hard choices. The nation is split, a bare 47% to 43% plurality backing criminal charges for mishandling classified documents, according to a Aug. 29-Sept. 1 Marist poll," Bloomberg's Chris Strohm and Mike Dorning wrote. "Trump, who is mulling another run for the presidency in 2024, is already openly raising the possibility of dark consequences in the event of an indictment."

READ MORE: Merrick Garland's case against Donald Trump is probably airtight

Last week, conservative disc jockey Hugh Hewitt asked the former president for his take on whether or not he might face an indictment. During that discussion, Trump said, “If it happened, I think you’d have problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen before.”

Although the DOJ likely has a substantial amount of evidence to support its obstruction case, Garland's decision, according to Bloomberg, "is sure to stoke political passions in the coming presidential race and set a precedent for whether criminal law extends to presidents."

The analysis went on to lay out Garland's alternatives.

The first option is to indict the former president.

READ MORE: Legal experts nudge Merrick Garland: Donald Trump is 'running for office as criminal defense strategy'

The next option would be to refrain from indicting Trump. "Even if Garland determines he has enough evidence to prove Trump guilty beyond a reasonable doubt -- the standard the Justice Department usually uses for criminal charging decisions -- he does have prosecutorial discretion to not pursue the case if that would be in the public interest," the writers explained.

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, weighed in on this possibility. “There is no question that prosecutorial discretion can consider the political or social upheaval that a case may cause,” said Turley. “It is part of the balancing with the need to show that no one is above the law."

Lastly, he could simply wait. The writers added, "Garland could wait on making a charging decision while the Justice Department proceeds with its investigation into whether Trump and his allies illegally attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election. There is also a separate investigation into election-related actions by a special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, featuring a recorded call from the former president to the state’s secretary of state asking him to 'find' more Trump votes."

READ MORE: 'Methodical' Merrick Garland 'fears no person' — and he's coming for Trump: legal scholar

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