Attorney General Merrick Garland believes he should not take potential political fallout into account when he considers charges against former President Donald Trump, related to the unprecedented raid of Mar-a-Lago.
On Friday, NBC News reported “that ‘people familiar’ with Garland’s deliberations say the attorney general ‘does not believe it’s his job to consider the political or social ramifications of indicting a former president, including the potential for violent backlash.’ Rather, Garland is reportedly considering ‘whether the facts and the law support a successful prosecution — and whether anyone else who had done what Trump is accused of doing would have been prosecuted.'”
Last month, the Washington Post reported that longtime federal prosecutor David Raskin was assisting the Justice Department’s Mar-a-Lago investigation team. The prosecutor helped to obtain a plea from FBI analyst Kendra Kingsbury, who pleaded guilty in October to two counts of unlawful retention of information tied to U.S. national security after she removed and unlawfully held 386 classified records.
The search warrant application cover sheet gave more information on what the Department of Justice was searching for when they raided Trump’s Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, on Aug. 8.
It showed that Trump was being investigated under 18 U.S.C. 793, part of the Espionage Act, relating to “willful retention of national defense information.” The record also pointed to 18 U.S.C. 2071, specifically the “concealment or removal” of government records, as well as 18 U.S.C. 1519, specifically related to “obstruction” of a federal investigation. It is unknown if the DOJ is considering charging Trump under those or other statutes.
Garland gave a brief speech on Aug. 11, just three days after the Mar-a-Lago raid, in which he admitted that he personally authorized the raid.
“Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly, without fear or favor. Under my watch, that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing,” Garland said. “All Americans are entitled to the evenhanded application of the law, to due process of the law, and to the presumption of innocence.”
When he was asked in October about whether or not he could guarantee transparency to the public about if Trump had potentially committed criminal offenses, Garland said that “this is an ongoing investigation, so I’m not really able to comment on it,” adding that “we speak through our filings in the cases we bring, and that’s the only way we speak.”
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