If all goes as planned and Garland takes the reins at the Justice Department, he will face a daunting thicket of quandaries that present thorny issues of law, accountability and politics.
It will take all of Garland’s legal experience and political acumen to negotiate the complex decisions an attorney general will face. Here are the most important decisions that Garland will likely make at the Justice Department headquarters.
This last option would be a mistake. I understand that it’s not an easy thing to investigate a former president, and even more difficult to prosecute one. Trump, who retains the fervent support of tens of millions of Americans, would likely break out the old attack lines against anybody who dared to investigate him (“witch hunt!”) and any prosecution would be perceived by some as politically vindictive.
I understand why it might be easier for Garland and the Justice Department, and perhaps preferable for Biden politically, to just let the past be the past and to “move on.” But that’s not what prosecutors do, or ought to do. Prosecutors shouldn’t shy away from difficult fights; the job itself is often about taking on powerful people or interests and seeing that justice is done.
At a minimum, Garland must ensure that the Justice Department conducts full investigations of Trump’s conduct. And once he gets all the facts, he must make a decision, thumbs-up or thumbs-down, on whether Trump has broken the law.
Hunter Biden investigations
John Durham investigation
Now, your questions:
Gary (Michigan): If Trump is someday convicted of a crime, can he still legally run for president again in 2024?
Gerry (Rhode Island): Can civil charges be brought against Trump for his role in the January 6 insurrection?
Generally speaking, a plaintiff would need to show by a “preponderance” of the evidence — meaning that it is more likely than not — that Trump’s actions (or the actions of any named defendant) caused their injuries, and that those injuries were reasonably foreseeable based on the defendant’s conduct. In other words, if you played a videotape of Trump’s remarks at the January 6 rally, and then hit pause, would it be reasonably foreseeable at that point that injury would result to the plaintiffs?