Shan Wu writes appointing a special counsel for Trump would be a mistake amid midterms

Attorney General Merrick Garland would make a mistake if he appointed a special counsel in response to Trump’s declaration of his 2024 candidacy.

Such a decision would put Trump in control of orchestrating further delays in criminal investigations and possible prosecution.

It could even factor into Trump’s decision on whether and when to run, knowing that it would look more political to prosecute a candidate, leading him to declare sooner rather than later in the face of increasing scrutiny by the DOJ in both roles from Trump’s Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol as well as the Mar-a-Lago documents. But those aren’t even the worst reasons why it would be a bug.

There are many reasons why appointing a special counsel now would be a mistake. First of all, this would inevitably lead to a delay in the process. A special counsel’s office requires time-consuming hiring and staffing, and the selection of the special counsel is itself a process that diverts valuable time from focusing on the numerous investigations Trump is involved in. That time would be wasted, because no matter how careful Garland might have been in the selection, that person would immediately be demonized by the right as a political hacker.

Also, the involvement of a special counsel is not required in these circumstances because there is no inherent conflict of interest in the DOJ investigating a past president as there would be in investigating an incumbent president.

Attorney General Merrick Garland

Kevin Dietsch

In the past, special counsel or independent counsel were appointed when the DOJ might need to investigate members of a president’s inner circle or cabinet. For example, the Reagan-era Iran/Contra affair involved the investigation, prosecution, and conviction of Reagan’s Secretary of Defense and his National Security Advisor—none of the convictions stood as they were all either overturned on appeal or subject to presidential pardons.

Similarly, Robert Mueller was appropriately appointed to lead the Russia probe since Trump was President during that probe. But Trump is no longer president, so his criminal investigation and prosecution doesn’t pose the conundrum of policing the executive branch itself.

While there is no conflict of interest, it is understandable that Garland and senior DOJ officials have considered using the federal statute authorizing the appointment of a special counsel, since the statute also provides for investigations or prosecutions in “extraordinary circumstances” when “it is in public.” would happen interested in appointing an outside special counsel.”

Obviously, the unprecedented investigation and prosecution of a former president constitutes “extraordinary circumstances,” but it would have been time to appoint a special counsel much earlier, not near the midterm elections and especially not in response to Trump possibly announcing another run for the presidency. That’s because the timing of such a decision would make it an overtly political act — exactly the kind of politicization of the Justice Department that Merrick Garland was trying to avoid.

There is no question that Garland sought to depoliticize and rehabilitate the DOJ’s image after Barr turned it into a political weapon for Donald Trump.

Garland renewed the DOJ’s commitment to the Hatch Act, banning all political activity by DOJ-appointed politicians even on Election Day, reminded all DOJ employees of tight controls on their interactions with members of Congress, and famously promised to uphold the rule of law “without fear of favor.” “apply.” But all of those efforts could be undermined if he responds to Trump declaring himself presidential nominee by appointing a special counsel to take over the Trump investigation.

Why? Because responding to a political announcement is a political act. The best way for any prosecutor to be apolitical is to investigate and prosecute crimes without reference to the timing of the elections or running in those elections. Merrick Garland and Justice Department officials are more than capable of investigating and prosecuting Donald Trump “without fear or favor.” Now all they have to do is do it. Shan Wu writes appointing a special counsel for Trump would be a mistake amid midterms

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button