Senate Democrats believe there is a good chance the Department of Justice will prosecute former President Trump for trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election and inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, which would have major political reverberations ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
Democratic lawmakers say they don’t have any inside information on what might happen and describe Attorney General Merrick Garland as someone who would make sure to run any investigation strictly “by the book.”
But they also say the fact that Garland has provided little indication about whether the Department of Justice has its prosecutorial sights set on Trump doesn’t necessarily mean the former president isn’t likely to be charged.
Given the weight of public evidence, Democratic lawmakers think Trump committed federal crimes.
But Senate Democrats also warn that Garland needs to proceed cautiously. Any prosecution that fails to convict Trump risks becoming a disaster and could vindicate Trump, just as the inconclusive report by former special counsel Robert Mueller’s team was seized upon by Trump and his allies to declare his exoneration on a separate series of allegations.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said “clearly what [Trump] did” in the days leading up and the day of the Jan. 6 attack on Congress “falls in the ambit of what’s being investigated and perhaps is criminal.”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said it’s up to the prosecutors at the Justice Department whether to charge Trump, though he believes that the former president’s actions on and before Jan. 6 likely violate federal law.
“They have all of the evidence at their disposal,” he said.
Kaine believes federal prosecutors are looking seriously at charges against Trump, although he doesn’t have any inside information about what they may be working on.
“My intuition is that they are” looking carefully at whether Trump broke the law, he said. “My sense is they’re looking [at] everything in a diligent way and they haven’t made a decision.”
“I believe there are federal statutes that are very much implicated” by Trump’s efforts to overturn President Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, Kaine added.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said, “I think anybody who it’s proven had a role in the planning of [the Jan. 6 attack] should be prosecuted, not just the people who broke in and smashed the window in my office and others.”
“I think anybody that’s shown to have had a role in its planning absolutely should be prosecuted,” he added. “I mean it was treason, it was trying to overturn an election through violent means.”
Asked whether Trump broke the law, Brown said “I’m not going to say he’s guilty before I see evidence,” but he also said there’s “a lot of evidence that he was complicit.”
Meanwhile the story continues to find the much, much more likely scenario of state charges against Trump to be the actual reality, facing election interference in Georgia and bank and insurance fraud in NY.
Those cases I can see going forward in a limited fashion, but after Robert Mueller, I have no confidence that Merrick Garland will ever charge Trump, and none of you should either.