The Special Congressional investigation into the actions of former President Trump during and around the massive insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, was elevated to a whole new stage this week with the revelation in the Washington Post that Attorney General Merrick Garland and the U.S. Justice Department have been fully engaged all along in that criminal investigation which will undoubtedly lead to criminal indictments against Trump himself.
An indictment would mark the first time in U.S. history that a U.S. president will have been charged with a crime.
Over the last two months, the eight House Special Committee hearings have put a mountain of evidence out for the entire world to see of Trump’s personal culpability in the attempted illegal coup to overturn the November 2020 election.
The biggest question was becoming whether or not, despite the evidence, Trump would get off totally free, avoid prosecution and even be able to advance his plans to run for president again in 2024.
Almost all informed observers have been commenting that were Trump to avoid prosecution and to run again, it would spell the end of democracy in the U.S. as we have known it. As U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly wrote in this week’s Washington Post, a plan has been revealed by Axios reporter Jonathan Swan whereby Trump, if reelected, would use his presidential power to outright fire at least 10,000 of the entire U.S. civil service corps and replace them all with his “loyal supporters.”
Now, however, not only have the House Special Committee hearings begun to seriously chip away at Trump’s viability going forward, these new revelations of the Attorney General’s criminal investigation could, and should, bring Trump’s future plans to a grinding halt.
This week’s blockbuster Post expose says Garland’s investigation is on two tracks: the seditious conspiracy to obstruct a government proceeding (the January 6 riot) and the fraud associated with Trump’s fake-electors scheme, including the pressure by Trump on the Justice Department and others to accept the groundless proposition that the election, which Trump lost by seven million votes, was rigged.
The Post article comes in the context of an interview with Garland aired on NBC Tuesday in which Garland spells out the entire context for his investigation, noting importantly that it has been underway for a while now. As to the issue of political pressures on his department, Garland passionately asserted that, “From the bottom of my heart, the only pressure on this investigation is the pressure to do the right thing.”
Interviewed on MSNBC following these revelations Tuesday night, former FBI general counsel Andrew Weissman said that Garland “has the necessary backbone” to pull all this off.
Also on MSNBC, Lawrence Tribe, the longtime Harvard Law School professor who once had Garland as a student, said this revelation means “We are in a completely different phase” of this response to Trump and January 6. He said that Trump is being shown to have attempted to defraud the American people, to overthrow the election and to foment an insurrection.
Calling to account “the effort at interfering with a peaceful transition of power as central to preserving democracy” constitutes the vital importance of this week’s revelations.
It comes just as columnist Max Boot wrote in the Post this week under the headline, “American Seems to Be Sleepwalking Into Disaster,” “We need to take seriously the possibility that the United States could become a failed democracy.” He wrote, “We already live in a ‘backsliding’ democracy, where voting rights are being restricted and freedom is under siege. The most severe threat comes from an increasingly authoritarian Republican Party whose maximum leader is an unindicted and unrepentant coup plotter.”
Now, if a deserved Justice Department indictment of Trump occurs and he fails in his effort to become a candidate for election in the coming period, this does not mean that the deep threat to the nation of the forces Trump has unleashed will disappear. On the contrary, virtually the entire GOP seems to have drunk the Trump kool aid at this point, seeing his menacing bullying tactics and disregard for the rule of law as their fastest track to taking power.
A huge battle for the soul of this nation is brewing.