Will He Or Won’t He? Should He Or Shouldn’t He?

The great debate these days seems to be over whether Attorney General Merrick Garland will, or should, charge Donald Trump for crimes committed while in office.  You all know my opinion:  charge him, convict him, put him in a cell and throw away the key!  But, there is more to consider and political author/journalist Bill Press assesses it in his latest column …

To charge or not to charge?

Bill Press, 28 July, 2022

To charge or not to charge?

For months in Washington – whether over breakfast at the Four Seasons, lunch at The Palm, or dinner at Café Milano – the only topic of conversation has been: What’s Merrick Garland up to? Is the Justice Department conducting its own investigation of possible criminal activity related to Jan. 6? And, if so, how high would it go? All the way to Trump? Why hasn’t he already filed charges? Or is Garland, afraid of making the department look political, just holding back and leaving it up to Congress?

Nobody knew. And Garland only deepened the mystery with his sphinx-like pronouncement that “no person,” not even a former president, is “above the law.”

This week, we finally got some answers. Washington’s sleepy, summertime media exploded with first, the rumor, then confirmation, that none other than Marc Short, former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, and Greg Jacob, Pence’s former chief counsel, had met with a federal grand jury looking into possible criminal charges related to the failed insurrection of Jan. 6.

Now we know for sure: The Justice Department, having already filed charges against more than 855 people who took part in the violent assault on the Capitol, is moving up the chain of command – is already inside the White House – investigating who in the top tier of the Trump administration is responsible for summoning and inciting the mob. And we know that the DOJ was, in fact, conducting its own investigation even before receiving any request to do so from the January 6 Select Committee. That’s big news.

But that news has also re-ignited another old debate in Washington: No matter how outrageous his conduct before, during, and after Jan. 6, should Merrick Garland even file charges against Donald Trump? Many leading attorneys, including CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin, with whom I usually agree on everything, have urged Garland not to act. Their arguments are wide-ranging: that such a case is complicated and might not succeed; that prosecuting a former president’s never been done before in this country; that that’s how autocracies work, not democracies; and that charging Trump with a crime will only give him another opportunity to paint himself as a political victim in a trial that could drag on for years.

And so the question of the day has become: To charge or not to charge? Frankly, I can’t even believe we’re having this debate. It’s a no-brainer. Of course, Donald Trump should be charged with crimes he committed as president. There’s no good argument for not doing so.

Granted, this would be the first time a former president faced criminal charges. But why? Because we’ve never had a president like Donald Trump before. No other American president tried to bribe the president of another country; refused to accept, and then tried to overturn, the outcome of an election; asked a state official to “discover” 11,000 more votes; encouraged his lawyers to create slates of fake electors; summoned a mob of supporters to Washington and, knowing they were armed, directed them to storm the Capitol and prevent Congress and his vice president from carrying out their constitutional responsibilities.

Plus, the evidence is clear. Trump is guilty as sin. The January 6 Committee has made the case. Trump’s guilty of violating the law against rebellion and insurrection. S2383 strictly prohibits anyone who “incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto.” That’s exactly what Trump did leading up to Jan. 6.

And, among other possible charges, Trump’s guilty of obstructing justice, according to which it’s a crime “to corruptly obstruct, influence or impede any official proceeding or attempt to do so.” Which is exactly what Trump did on Jan. 6.

There’s also the matter of fairness. There were two different sets of players on Jan. 6: those who carried out the attack, and those who planned and organized it. It would be a gross miscarriage of justice for the DOJ to prosecute only the members of the mob, and not the man who sent them.

Finally, it’s important to hold Trump responsible in order to send a message: In this great country, anybody has the right to complain about the outcome of an election. But nobody has the right to overturn the government and destroy our democracy in order to stay in office. That’s an attack on the United States of America.

For those reasons, Merrick Garland must file criminal charges against Donald Trump. The sooner, the better.

25 thoughts on “Will He Or Won’t He? Should He Or Shouldn’t He?

  1. He can and he will, if I’m any judge of the man who would have been a judge on the Supreme Court, had Mitch McConnell not blocked his nomination, How ironic it would be if Mitch’s cynical prevention of Garland becoming a Justice results in Garland preventing Trump from getting away with his treasonous crimes!

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  2. Is the USA ready to play by The Big Boys and Girls Rules? Ones which many other nations have enacted upon those who thought they were too big to fall.
    It is understandable, the reluctance. Getting Trump and pulling him down in other times, would be no problem.
    The question is are the Establishment, Democrats, and The Unaligned Moderates ready to call the bluff of the bullying mob or take them on face to face, sleeves rolled up?
    This is the crossroads.

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  3. Jill, I have long been in the camp that he should be charged and tried. It sets a terrible precedent if we don’t. How bad must it be for a president to be held accountable. We should not forget that incumbent Gerald Ford lost the election because he pardoned Richard Nixon, who was exactly what he said he wasn’t – a crook. Yet, Donald Trump is far worse. This siiting president instigated and involved himself in an insurrection against Congress. That is sedition. If we do not charge him, we are saying it is OK to betray your country. What is interesting is he may has done other things where he put his interests ahead of our country’s as president. He ran an unvetted shadow diplomacy with Rudy Giuliani to extort Ukraine, for example. Keith

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    • I think anyone who is a thinker and cares about this nation is in that camp with you and me, my friend. If he skates on this one, you’re right, it sets a precedent that future presidents will be sorely tempted to rely on. Indeed, Trump is worse than Nixon ever thought about being, but the Republican Party was different then, too. I think … I hope … that he will be charged and found guilty. I doubt he will ever spend a day in prison, because he’s old enough that he can keep it tied up in the courts for a while and then be too old, they’ll find a way to keep him out. While I’d love to see him behind bars, it doesn’t matter as much as it matters that he be charged and convicted so that he can never again hold public office. He must be made an example so that we don’t go through this again.


  4. Well, the case for not doing so because “it’s never been done before” is ludicrous. The past decade in America has seen a glut of “never befores”. How many times did the orange baby elude to or down right threaten individuals who didn’t agree with his inane dribble with conviction of treason which, he always reminded his masses, was punishable by “I don’t know, death is it?” Just not having to hear his despicable voice every day has made me want to live. If they don’t at least try it is like a huge green light to everyone like him. Go ahead! They can’t touch you.

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    • I fully agree — it IS ludicrous! The reality is that we’ve never had such a corrupt, cruel person in the Oval Office before Trump, so now the rules must change. There can be no more “executive privilege”, since it can obviously lead to an overthrow of our government! If he is not held accountable, we will be living … not might, but WILL … under an authoritarian regime by the end of this decade, perhaps sooner.

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    • That is my fear … there will come others who are as cruel, inhumane and evil as Trump, but more intelligent, and that, my friend, would be the end of this nation as we’ve known it for some 235 years.

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    • I think all those of us who care about liberty, who care about democracy at all, feel that way. If he is not charged, it opens the doors to … something I don’t even want to think about, but that we must think about.

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    • He must, or else we will have the most corrupt government in the Western world. Well, maybe we already do. Sigh. Yes, every day I imagine how life would be if he had succeeded, and I can only make the comparison to Nazi Germany, for Trump is a Nazi if ever there was one in this nation. Sigh.

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  5. I’m glad Mr. Bill Press agrees with me! Only bad things will happen if Trump is not charged. I do not care if a President has never been charged. That does not make precedent — it just means no previous president so egregiously broke the laws of the land. Precedent will be set when Trump is charged, and even better precedent will be set when he is found guilty and thrown behind bars.
    Too often rich white folk are judged by a different set of laws, or rules. Just look at the current scandal in Canada where 21 times at least hockey players with great futures ahead of them have been found to be active participants in sexual axsaults including gang rape but not charged with their crimes. Now that these cases are coming to light after being buried behind lies and illegal Non-Disclosure Agreements, these “glorified criminals” better be charged and put in jail, not given $multi-milion salaries and undeserved fame to be assholes. Different laws for talented, or rich, people.
    And while Trump may have lots of money and power, he is a pauper when considering his humanity. Is this really the kind of person we want in charge of the governing of an entire nation? If you think he is, you have no more humanity than he does.

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    • I agree, rg … 100%. I don’t give a rat’s ass about the precedent. Thus far in our history, we’ve never had a president as abusive and corrupt as Trump, and we MUST set a new precedent for future presidents to understand that there IS a line in the sand! The GOP is to blame here, for they have changed since 1974 when Richard Nixon resigned rather than be impeached, convicted, and removed from office. He KNEW the GOP was disgusted by his coverup of the Watergate scandal and he KNEW they would not allow him to remain in office. Back then, the GOP had both a conscience and balls, but today they have neither. Yes, Trump must … MUST be held to account, or we will be living in a dictatorship by the end of this decade, perhaps much sooner.

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