The committee investigating the storming of the US Capitol has recommended that authorities investigate ex-President Trump. But US Attorney General Garland is still reluctant to press charges.
By Ralf Borchard, ARD Studio Washington
The commission of inquiry has made serious allegations against Donald Trump: false allegations regarding election results, obstruction of a congressional process, conspiracy against the US government and inciting violent riots. On these four counts, the committee recommends an indictment.
ARD Studio Washington
Referring to the Capitol storm, Committee Chair Bennie Thompson said, “If we are going to survive as a nation on the basis of law and democracy, that must never happen again.” Why, then, is US Attorney General Merrick Garland reluctant to actually impeach Donald Trump? There are legal and political reasons.
Painstaking proof required
The decision on the charges lies with the Attorney General, because he is also the Attorney General in the United States. Garland has to use very different criteria than the committee, which is a political body.
A prosecutor, on the other hand, must present evidence of crimes that will stand up in court, said Preet Bharara, ex-US Attorney for New York State on NBC television. “When you indict someone, in what is perhaps the most explosive court case in US history, because the former president is at stake, then the evidence must be even more complete than usual, free of any doubt. You not only want to stand up in court, but also the public convince them that this is a righteous, meritorious proceeding and that you have the law on your side.”
At the same time, Attorney General Garland must try to avoid any semblance of political partisanship. Shortly after the announcement of Trump’s renewed presidential candidacy, Garland therefore appointed a special counsel, prosecutor Jack Smith. Smith has been conducting his own investigation since November and is ultimately expected to make the crucial recommendation.
Pence: Charges would divide country
Ex-Vice President Mike Pence, who defied Trump’s pressure on January 6, 2021 and narrowly escaped the violent mob, advises against impeaching Trump. “I hope the Justice Department understands the full magnitude of this decision,” Pence told Fox News. “Impeaching the former president would be incredibly dividing at a time when the American people want us to heal.”
Democratic MP Jamie Raskin, on the other hand, said at the last session of the investigative committee that if criminal investigations are carried out into the hundreds of ordinary citizens who stormed the Capitol at Trump’s instigation, Trump himself must also be held accountable. “We don’t have a justice system where the foot soldiers go to jail and the leaders and ringleaders get away with it,” Raskin said.
The decision as to whether Donald Trump will be charged remains controversial, so definitely. The pressure on Special Counsel Smith and Attorney General Garland is intense.
Charges against Trump? Why the Ministry of Justice (still) hesitates
Ralf Borchard, ARD Washington, December 21, 2022 5:24 a.m