Donald J. Trump will be indicted before the spring of next year. Many of us, of course, believe he should already have been indicted and put on trial. But Attorney General Merrick Garland is a very deliberate man. He was not about to push for indicting Trump before the midterms and consequently be accused of playing politics with the indictment, not that he won’t get that pushback whenever an indictment does come.
Garland has made it very clear that he stands by the basic American principle that “no one is above the law.” In the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol’s final public hearing this past Thursday, the Committee laid out a compelling case that Trump broke several federal laws. Those include conspiracy to defraud the government, obstruction of justice and inciting a rebellion. Now it is up to Garland and the Justice Department to act.
While a federal grand jury has been investigating allegations against Trump for many months, just recently the Department “issued over 30 more subpoenas to people within Trump’s orbit to appear before the federal grand jury.” Then, on Thursday, the same day as the House Select Committee summed up its case against Trump, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell denied Trump’s claim of executive privilege, requiring that former Vice President Pence‘s chief of staff Marc Short testify before the grand jury.
Judge Howell ruled that Short probably possessed information important to the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol that was not available from other sources. Howell’s decision opens the door for the testimony of the recipients of those 30 subpoenas, many of whom, if not all, would be claiming executive privilege if not for Howell’s ruling. Their testimony will likely give the DOJ a good deal more evidence to bolster its already strong case against Trump.
Still, the DOJ has to wrap up its inquiry and bring whatever formal charges it can against Trump sooner rather than later. The Department must realize that it’s window of opportunity is time limited. Once the 2024 presidential election cycle begins in earnest later next year, Trump will use every trick he can to make a political circus out of the Department’s prosecution, not that he won’t do that whenever he is indicted. In which case, the prosecution could drag on and public opinion could turn against the Department. Thus, the DOJ must move quickly in the new year to bring charges against Trump and proceed to trial as early as possible next summer.
Garland has no other choice since no one is above the law.
Bruce Berlin, J.D.
A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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