'Garland is to blame': Legal expert warns Trump could face DOJ indictment and still become president in 2025
During the 1970s, the Watergate scandal and President Richard Nixon's August 1974 resignation came as a major shock not only to the United States, but also, to its allies around the world. The more one read Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's bombshell reporting in the Washington Post or listened to Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks, the more troubling Watergate and the corruption of Nixon and his allies became.
Yet Woodward, Bernstein and Wine-Banks are the first to say that Nixon and Watergate pale in comparison to the activities of former President Donald Trump and his allies in the MAGA movement — that Trump crossed dangerous lines that Nixon wouldn't have dared to cross, such as trying to overturn the results of a presidential election that he lost. In 2023, Trump is seeking the 2024 GOP presidential nomination while facing investigations from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and special counsel Jack Smith, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, New York State Attorney General Letitia James and Fulton County, Georgia DA Fani Willis.
Liberal attorney Elie Mystal, often featured as a legal analyst on MSNBC, examines Trump's legal problems and his 2024 presidential campaign in an article published by The Nation on March 7. And he isn't optimistic about the chances of the former president facing true accountability for trying to "overthrow the government" in late 2020 and early 2021.
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"Trump is far from the first guy to be willing to break a republic in order to dodge personal responsibility," Mystal argues. "I never thought a mere indictment would stop Trump from running again. He lacks the capacity for humility or shame that might make a normal person abandon their political ambitions, and his dangerous fans are so committed to the authoritarian and brutal future he offers that mundane concerns like 'the rule of law' mean nothing to them."
Mystal laments that Trump "will not be convicted and jailed for trying to overturn the 2020 election before he runs for president again," adding that U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is "to blame."
"Garland has now passed the buck to special counsel Jack Smith, and the same people who told us that Bill Barr was going to be an honorable attorney general, or that Robert Mueller was going to be a dogged investigator, or that Rod Rosenstein was going to stand up to the Trump White House, now tell us that Smith is the perfect 'closer' to bring Trump to justice," Mystal writes. "For what it's worth, I actually believe that Smith will indict Trump for something, eventually, if only to justify his own existence. But we are already in March of 2023."
The attorney adds, "The Iowa Caucuses are on February 5, 2024. The New Hampshire primary for Republicans is on February 13. Trump is the presumptive frontrunner in both of those contests. Even if indictments come down today, it's simply unlikely that the wheels of justice will spin fast enough to take us from charges to trial in less than a year…. The time for holding Trump accountable in a way that would have prevented or even temporarily interrupted his quest to reconquer America passed a long time ago."
READ MORE: New details on Fani Willis' potential indictment of Donald Trump revealed: report
The DOJ has a longstanding policy against indicting a sitting president, as former special counsel Robert Mueller noted after delivering the final report for his Russia/Trump probe. Mystal warns that even with Smith's DOJ investigations, it is entirely possible that Trump will become president again.
"When Trump strides across the stage at the Republican National Convention or, heaven help us, gets sworn in again as a free man in January 2025, Garland and his legion of defenders will claim that more could not have been done," Mystal explains. "He’ll say it was impossible to bring Trump to trial before the 2024 election cycle. He will be wrong…. By not taking the shot against Trump as early as possible, Garland has all but doomed his investigation to run out of time."
The attorney continues, "Now, even if Trump is brought to trial, the outcome will not be determined by a judge and jury but by the results of Super Tuesday…. From the moment Trump failed in his attempt to overthrow the government, his sole goal has been to avoid accountability so he could try to take over the government again. He has succeeded. Garland has let him."
READ MORE: Donald Trump attacks special counsel Jack Smith as a 'Trump hating thug' running a 'Gestapo type' operation
Read Elie Mystal’s full article for The Nation at this link.
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