Merrick Garland, the man who could put Trump in court

Chris LefkowSat, 20 August 2022, 9:35 am·4 min read

Merrick Garland, the US attorney general, was denied a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court by Republicans in the Senate.

He now faces a decision arguably every bit as weighty as anything he may have faced on the nation’s highest court: the potential prosecution of a former president of the United States.

The 69-year-old Garland personally approved the stunning August 8 FBI search of Donald Trump’s Florida home and will have the final say on whether he is to be charged with any crimes.

Such a move against a former president would be unprecedented — Richard Nixon was pardoned by Gerald Ford before any criminal charges could be brought stemming from the Watergate scandal.

And while Nixon was a spent force anyway — having resigned in disgrace — the 76-year-old Trump retains an iron grip over the Republican Party and is openly mulling another run for the White House in 2024.

“The idea of prosecuting a former president for anything is pretty extraordinary,” said Steven Schwinn, a law professor at the University of Illinois Chicago. “But Trump’s actions were pretty extraordinary.”

While the Mar-a-Lago raid appears to center around the mishandling of classified documents, Trump is also facing legal scrutiny for trying to overturn the results of the November 2020 election and for the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.

Trump has not been charged so far in connection with either case but the House committee probing the Capitol riot, in a series of public hearings, has laid out a roadmap for Garland to potentially follow.

Whether he will do so is the burning question in the nation’s capital.

The raid on Trump’s Florida home ignited a political firestorm and indicting him would ratchet up tensions even further in a country already bitterly divided along Democratic and Republican lines.

Garland is politically astute enough to foresee the consequences of going after Trump, Schwinn said, and has “complicated considerations to put in the balance.”

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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