Sixteen months ago Donald Trump incited his cult followers to storm the Capitol in an effort to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election results. And for sixteen months the nation has been holding its collective breath while waiting for the Justice Department to hold Trump accountable for his brazen attempts to undermine democracy.
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While there have been numerous indictments of individual StormTrumpers for crimes ranging from trespassing to sedition, Trump himself has still not faced the legal consequences of his treasonous acts. A recent poll shows that, nearly a year and a half after the acts of domestic terrorism in Washington, D.C., 67% of the American people – including 41% of Republicans – say that he “bears some or a lot of responsibility for the violence and destruction committed by some of his supporters when they broke into the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.”
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On Sunday's episode of Face the Nation on CBS, host Margaret Brennan interviewed former Attorney General Eric Holder, who served in the Obama administration. When asked about the prospect of a Trump indictment, Holder replied that he thinks that, based on the evidence, it would be warranted:
Brennan: Merrick Garland, you mentioned, he's now in your old job as Attorney General. There have been critics of him who say that he isn't being aggressive enough around the prosecutions of January 6th. Do you think that's right?
Holder: No one knows. I mean, I have great faith in Merrick and the people at the Justice Department. We won't really know how aggressive they've been until they are before a camera and announcing a decision, either to indict certain people or not indict certain people. Here's my prediction. At some point people at the Justice Department, perhaps that prosecutor in Atlanta, are gonna have to make a determination about whether or not they want to indict Donald Trump.
Brennan: Will they do it?
Holder: Well, I think there's gonna be sufficient factual information. And I think that there's going to be sufficient proof of intent. And then the question becomes, what's the impact of of such an indictment? I'm an institutionalist. My initial thought was not to indict the former president out of concern of how divisive it would be. But given what we have learned, I think that he probably has to be held accountable.
Holder is correct in saying that the status of Merrick's progress with regard to a case against Trump is unknowable at this time. While frustrating for those who fear that Trump is getting away with his crimes, Merrick's discretion is actually the proper way of handling any investigation.
However, it is encouraging that Holder, who is well acquainted with Department of Justice protocols, is convinced that both the facts and the intent sufficient to merit an indictment of Trump exist right now. What's more, he is comfortable articulating that opinion on national television.
The only disappointing part of Holder's remarks is his claim to be an "institutionalist," which led him to initially lean against indicting Trump because it might be "divisive." That is not a consideration based on legal principle. If there is evidence of a crime sufficient to convict, an indictment should be mandatory. Whether or not it is divisive is a political call that has nothing to do with the law. It would only create a gap in enforcement that allows the privileged class to escape punishment for their unlawful acts. It would place criminals like Trump above the law.
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Notwithstanding his initial considerations, Holder has come to right conclusion. There is abundant evidence of numerous crimes that Trump has committed. He could be indicted today for violations of laws that related to his real estate business, his taxes, electoral fraud, intimidating government officials, abuse of power, perjury, and probably more. Hopefully AG Garland is working on indictments for these. Time will tell, but not until after it's done frustrating.
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