WASHINGTON — Attorney General Merrick B. Garland has long said the Justice Department is tasked with investigating former President Donald J. Trump. The final weeks of President Donald J. Trump’s presidency included his supporters attacking the Capitol for refusing to admit his election defeat.
That allegation was part of Garland’s desire to show that a branch that is neither a weapon nor an enemy of the president or political party can operate beyond partisanship. He suggested that he could survive the actual and perceived political mines that accompanied his investigation.
“The rule of law means that the law treats each of us equally,” said Garland. “There are no rules for friends, no rules for enemies. Some rules are for the strong, others for the weak.”
But Garland’s hopes are being tested by Trump’s apparent demeanor plans to announce that he will run for the White House againsteps to transform him from ex-president to president Biden’s election opponent in an era of extreme political polarization – environment DOJ considers Whether to appoint a special adviser To handle an open criminal investigation related to Mr. Trump.
A special counsel, usually appointed by the attorney general, has more autonomy to conduct investigations than other federal prosecutors typically do. Although the individual has more independence than a U.S. attorney, the final decision on whether to indict Trump still rests with Garland and top Justice Department leaders.
former president faces a series of investigationsWhether the department will ultimately prosecute him, including his handling of classified national security documents and his efforts to stay in power after losing the election, remains an open question.
The special counsel could, in theory, shield the Defense Department from the perception that the Trump investigation was a partisan attack on Biden’s greatest political opponent. It may imply that not all Americans can be trusted to make decisions that pursue
Whether or not Garland will appoint a special counsel to investigate Trump, the fact that the Justice Department is considering such a move for the second time in five years is a sign that the former president is underestimating the agency’s capabilities. It partly reflects how much it weakens trust in Investigate him impartially.
“Our justice system faces one of the greatest challenges in its more than 250-year history. Ethics and Rule of Law Center.
With the midterm elections approaching, here stands President Biden.
“Under federal law, there’s no reason why a former president or presidential candidate can’t be prosecuted,” Finkelstein said. “But the nature of our politics is so polarized that no criminal investigation, prosecution or legal action is not recognized as part of the toxic partisan politics in the United States today.”
By law, a special counsel is appointed when an investigation presents a conflict of interest for the department and when it serves the public interest to bring the matter to a relatively independent person from the department.
If Trump declares his candidacy, an investigation into the sitting president’s greatest political opponent in the next election could pose more conflict for Biden’s Justice Department than it has faced in previous investigations. says a legal expert.
“After Trump was declared a former president and above, it would be prudent for the State Department to assess whether a special counsel is appropriate,” said Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III Trump. .
It’s not the first time the special counsel has had to deal with a Trump-related issue.
After Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey in May 2017, the agency Tap Mr. Mueller Complete the Bureau’s Russia investigation and determine whether Trump obstructed that investigation. Mueller’s report found no evidence that the Trump campaign broke the law in its dealings with Russia. After Trump resigned, he let prosecutors decide on the obstruction issueWilliam P. Barr, the attorney general at the time, interpreted the report to clear him of wrongdoing.
John H. Durham after Trump-led Republicans continue to denounce Mueller’s work appointed to investigate Whether the Russian investigation was a partisan attack. (Durham plans to provide Garland with his findings in the coming months. not prosecuting government officials.)
The Pentagon can now appoint a person to broadly oversee the current investigation into the government’s handling of classified documents after Trump leaves office. This includes questions as to whether Trump or his aides intentionally tried to mislead investigators and sabotage the investigation.
Justice Department officials wanted to weigh the evidence themselves and make a compelling case based on facts and law. By adhering to the rules, we wanted to show that the judicial system was working in the face of Trump’s multi-pronged attacks.
However, it is not clear whether the appointment of a special prosecutor will increase public confidence in the ministry.
It is debatable whether the special counsel and his former independent attorney have ever succeeded in their tacit mission to help the country come to an agreement on a highly controversial issue. and Durham, besides Leon JaworskiInvestigating President Nixon in the Watergate scandal Ken StarrHe led the investigation into President Clinton.
Once Trump gets involved, it’s hard to imagine a world in which the special counsel thrives as a neutral arbitrator, with fewer actual and perceived disputes than the Attorney General.
As FBI director, Mueller is known for shaping the US response to the post-9/11 terrorist threat. But Trump has portrayed Mueller, a Republican who worked in both the Reagan and Bush administrations, as a hack for a Democratic faction engaged in witch-hunting, and has tarnished his reputation with false statements and wild accusations. hurt.
“Institutions that have relied on impartiality for legitimacy are increasingly realizing that speaking in an authoritative, neutral voice is no longer possible,” Finkelstein said.
Finding a special counsel in an era of rampant partisanship would be difficult. A candidate should be respected by both Republicans and Democrats and be willing to endure denunciations by Mr. Trump.
The rules governing the special counsel also make it clear that Garland will ultimately decide whether to make the findings public and whether to indict Trump.
If past investigations into Mr. Trump are any clue, there’s going to be a sizeable portion of the public who think Mr. Garland was at fault, no matter what the evidence suggests. The Special Counsel does not change that.