After delays and hesitations, the looming arrest of Donald Trump

Have you ever wondered why, over two years after taking office, Attorney General Merrick Garland has failed to indict Donald Trump for any of his apparent crimes, many performed in broad daylight?

Have you ever wondered why the Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, slowed the investigation of Cyrus Vance, Jr., his predecessor, into Donald Trump, or why Vance didn’t indict Trump himself?

Now Bragg is reported to be on the verge of indicting Trump in connection with his hush money payment to Stormy Daniels. Trump announced on social media he expected to be arrested today, Tuesday, March 21, 2023, and called for his supporters to go into the streets and protest.

Have you ever wondered why the District Attorney in Fulton, County Georgia has taken so long to indict Trump for interfering in the election in 2020? She impaneled a special grand jury which apparently recommended multiple indictments, but these require the action of a regular grand jury. We don’t know the status of proceedings, if any, before such a grand jury.

Why are these prosecutors, despite an abundance of evidence, seemingly so afraid to indict Trump?

In two years, Special Prosector Robert Mueller tried and convicted a number of Trump associates. He was unable to recommend the indictment of Trump himself because of a Justice Department policy against indicting a sitting president which dated back to Watergate days.

When Laurence Tribe, an emeritus Harvard Law School Professor and preeminent constitutional scholar, published an Op-ed in the Washington Post urging the indictment of Trump, Garland rushed to publish his own Op-ed (on voting rights) in the Post that very same afternoon, with the obvious intent of distracting attention from Tribe’s opinion piece. He was successful with this ploy. The Op-ed is apparently the only Op-ed Garland has published in the Washington Post since assuming office.

Coincidence, perhaps?

If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I would like to sell you.

Merrick Garland, a sitting appellate judge for over 20 years, was hardly the ideal choice for Attorney General under President Joe Biden if Biden’s intent had been to prosecute Trump and his associates for the crimes they had apparently committed.

Garland made a big deal at his confirmation hearings about how he would never let political considerations influence his decisions on whether or not to prosecute anyone. Two years after assuming office and after dragging his feet for most of those two years with respect to Trump, those assertions today do not appear credible.

In fact, Garland allowed the statute of limitations to run out on a number of serious felonies, including some of the ten cases Robert Mueller summarized in his report together with an outline of the evidence. These included what seemed be rather clear-cut cases of obstruction of justice.

Within the Democratic Party, as the Op-ed diversion from Tribe’s article seemed to demonstrate, there was an apparent taboo on voicing criticisms of Biden’s and Garland’s failure to indict Trump.

No other viable alternative explanation for what has been an inter-galactic silence on the issue comes to mind.

There were two other factors, aside from the one we believe was the main factor, which came into play in enabling Garland’s policy of impunity to be accepted by the public.

The first was the profitable industry the cable news channels continued to build, drawing viewers to become obsessed with the details of each development following the January 6, 2021 insurrection. These news channels’ audiences continued the pattern of becoming involved in what was in effect a continuing soap opera like the TV series CSI.

Swept away, that is out of the consciousness of viewers, were all of the crimes Trump and his accomplices had apparently committed before January 6, including a number of crimes involving tampering with or interfering in the electoral process. The ongoing investigation in Fulton County, Georgia is the main exception to this generalization. Yetneven it produced headlines that fit neatly into the overall CSI-style investigation narrative.

The second major factor, which has received little critical attention from the cable news channels and the news media in general, was the naked careerism which seems to have taken over in the Justice Department, where prosecutors are loathe to bring any indictments unless they are virtually assured of a conviction.

That, of course, is not the way our justice system is designed to work. In that system, when prosecutors believe a crime has been committed and they have developed evidence that could lead to a conviction, they are supposed to prosecute the case, leaving it to a judge or a jury to determine whether the evidence establishes the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt and therefore justifies a conviction.

Justice Department prosecutors apparently fear the black mark on their record a failure to convict might produce, and that this might impede their professional advancement. Consequently, we hear stories that prosecutors must be certain of conviction before bringing a case.

Sometimes, conversations on background even sound like prosecutors are making arguments as defense counsel, on issues such as “intent”.

“Intent is proven every day in thousands of cases by circumstantial evidence. Speaking on background, prosecutors sometimes seem to be saying that proving “intent” is an immensely difficult task when talking about the apparent crimes of Donald Trump.

As noted, these two factors may have contributed to the long delays and hesitations related to indicting Trump and his accomplices, and the public’s acceptance of these delays.

The biggest factor accounting for such delays and hesitations, however, would appear to be FEAR.

Prosecutors and government officials would be loathe to admit that fear has influenced the pace of their investigations or their decisions on whether or not to prosecute Trump.

Nonetheless, there is ample evidence, not least from the January 6 insurrection, that Trump supporters have threatened government officials and their families with physical harm when they disagree with their decisions or seek to influence their actions.

Prosecutors, grand jury members, and jury members are likely to consider the risk of physical harm to themselves or their families if they reach a decision adverse to Trump. This is natural. This is human nature. We would react the same way.

Ordinarily measures can be taken to protect potential victims of such vigilante action. However, when tens of millions of Trump supporters may object to decisions to arrest or indict Donald Trump, and Trump himself is urging his supporters to go into the streets to protest his potential or actual arrest, the threat assumes proportions that are truly frightening.

Now one way to deal with such threats would have been to zealously prosecute each and every person making such a threat, amid great publicity.

This is something Garland and other prosecutors have failed to do, perhaps out of fear of the reaction such prosecutions might produce.

The end result us that FEAR OF VIOLENCE is influencing decisions on whether or not to investigate criminal behavior by Donald Trump ot by politicians and government officials identified with him and his supporters.

Worth recalling is the title of Bob Woodward’s prize-winning book, “FEAR: Trump in the White House” (September 10, 2019).

Trump appears to be leading a group of millions of followers, many of whom are willing to resort to physical violence in their efforts to support their Leader and his movement.

In the 1920’s, Adolf Hitler’s “Brownshirts” (S.A. or Stürmabteilung, or “Stormtroopers”) engaged in political violence against the Nazi leader’s opponents. They ended up owning the streets, which the police in the Weimar Republic were unable to control. Their actions contributed to Hitler’s rise to power.

In the United States, in 1923, fear of violence appears to be influencing important decisions on whether to arrest and indict Donald Trump for crimes he has apparently committed, of which there are many.

Biden and Garland seem to have have allowed this threat to grow by permitting apparent criminals to remain immune from prosecution, creating the appearance of “impunity” for Donald Trump and his accomplices

With fear influencing such fateful decisions, America would appear to have already taken an important step on the path leading to fascism.

Notwithstanding this development, there are increasing signs that the courageous men and women in federal, state, and local government charged with prosecuting crime will secure indictments against Donald Trump.

After the first indictment, an avalanche of indictments could follow.

The battle to end apparent impunity is not over. These courageous prosecutors may yet take decisive steps to restore the rule of law in the United States, even if it involves the indictment and prosecution of a former president.

Many will yell and shout that such action is unprecedented and grossly unfair.

Trump will be the first president to be indicted.

He is also the first president to have engaged in an continuous crime spree before, during, and after his term of office.

That is opinion, but opinion based on the facts.

The amazing thing is that he wasn’t indicted two years ago.

The Trenchant Observer

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