Some Republican strategists are preparing themselves for the possibility that Attorney General Merrick Garland could indict former President Donald Trump within 90 days after the 2022 midterms.
“A couple of weeks after the election, I assume that Garland will indict Trump,” one veteran Republican aide told The Hill.
The Department of Justice has two investigatory paths that could lead to a possible indictment of Donald Trump. The first is related to their investigation of classified documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago and the other is related to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
Garland indict Trump for violating the Espionage Act
Legal experts believe that the stronger of the two paths would be to indict Trump for taking classified documents to Mar-a-Lago. If Garland is going to move forward with an indictment he needs to act swiftly.
“I think that the Espionage Act violations are relatively straightforward, even self-evident, and that the Department likely already has substantial evidence of obstruction of justice,” former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Robbins told The Hill.
“I think that the department will strive to bring an indictment as soon as it can consistent with other constraints, in order to at least minimize the ‘legs’ on the inevitable barrage of charges it will face that by indicting the former president it is interfering with an upcoming presidential election,” said Robbins.
FBI agents executed a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in August and recovered thousands of government documents. More than 100 of the records were marked classified. Documents show that Trump was under investigation for removal or destruction of records, obstruction of justice and violating the Espionage Act.
Garland indicting Trump would be a “bad Idea”
While many GOP strategists and aides are preparing for a Trump indictment, they warned that it would be a bad idea, not because Trump is innocent of the charges leveled against him, but because it would further divide the country.
One Republican aide admits that Garland has a strong case to indict Trump with violating the Espionage Act. However, the aide warned that any prosecution would “plunge the country which is already so divided … into a potentially precarious situation.”
“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” another Republican strategist, Vin Weber told The Hill. “If this is going to happen, it’s not in anyone’s interest to prolong this process until the presidential process for ’24 is underway and drop this like a bomb into the middle of an already established presidential field.”
Trump has not formally announce he is running for president in 2024, but has repeatedly hinted that he will. If he does, the next time he appears on the ballot would be during the GOP primaries in January 2024. This gives Garland “all of 2023,” to possibly indict Trump, according to law professor and former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade.
“The next time he will appear on the ballot, if ever, will be in the 2024 primary elections, which begin in January of 2024. The DOJ policy would not come into play until 60 days or so before that date,” McQuade told The Hill.