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Why Merrick Garland is unlikely to indict Donald Trump

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Former US President Donald Trump could still escape prosecution for his role in the January 6 attack, even after the House Select Committee presents all of its evidence, experts have warned.

Even before the panel began presenting its findings in live televised hearings, calls were made for the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to indict the former president. for his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and the January 6, 2021 that followed. uprising in the Capitol.

Among the key moments of the first two televised hearings is the panel explaining how Trump continued to spread his false claims that the 2020 election was rigged despite being repeatedly told that was not the case. .

The panel alleged that several GOP congressmen, including Scott Perry, asked the former president for forgiveness before he left office for their role in trying to overturn the election results.

The panel also said the far-right group Proud Boys, whose core members have since been charged with sedition on Jan. 6, were inspired to attack the Capitol by Trump’s tweets.

Video of former President Donald Trump is played during a hearing by the select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol at the Cannon House office building on June 13, 2022 in Washington, D.C. DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

While several more hearings are yet to take place, with the next to be heard on Thursday, Thomas Gift, founding director of the Center on American Policy at University College London, said the January 6 panel appears to be “methodically building the case.” for an indictment against Trump.

However, Gift said he remains unconvinced that Garland will ultimately make the unprecedented move to charge a former president with a crime because of the potentially significant, even dangerous backlash.

“Any move by the Justice Department to prosecute the former president will be met with howls from the right alleging a partisan vendetta to eliminate Biden’s most likely opponent in 2024,” Gift told Newsweek.

“In this context, there is every reason to expect Attorney General Merrick Garland to exercise extreme caution before pursuing a case, to the point that it seems like an unlikely scenario at this stage.

“If he did, the wave of right-wing backlash he would conjure up through the MAGA verse would be both enormous and with consequences impossible to predict,” Gift added.

The panel attempted to underscore how willing Trump was to ignore the truth told to him about the election results.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat and panel member, accused the ‘Big Lie’ of also being a ‘big scam’ and alleged that Trump was continuing to push the bogus voter fraud allegations in order to raise hundreds of millions of dollars. dollars. of his supporters under false pretenses.

Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor and president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, told Newsweek that the evidence presented so far is important in showing Trump’s state of mind in the days and weeks following the election, but ” knowledge and intent are only part “of a criminal prosecution.

“The Justice Department needs more, and these hearings can be for political purposes. The House is focused on the 2022 midterm elections and even the 2024 presidential race,” Rahmani said. “The Attorney General would also have to prove a causal link between Trump’s actions and the violence that followed on January 6.”

Rahmani also suggested that Garland is not the kind of “aggressive” prosecutor who is “willing to take on a difficult and highly political prosecution” and indict a former president.

Instead, Rahmani suggests the prosecutor most likely to bring charges against Trump is Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who is leading the criminal investigation in Georgia where Trump is accused of trying to persuade Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes against. help him win the state.

A special grand jury is hearing testimony from witnesses subpoenaed since June 1 as part of the investigation into whether Trump committed voter fraud solicitation with his phone call to Raffensperger. Trump has frequently denied any wrongdoing, describing the call as “perfect” and the investigation into him a “witch hunt”.

Garland gave no real indication as to whether the DOJ intends to indict Trump on Jan. 6 or his attempts to nullify the election. On Monday, Garland assured that he and other prosecutors were keeping up to date with House committee submissions.

“I watch and will watch all the hearings, although I may not be able to watch everything live,” he said. “And I can assure you that prosecutors on January 6 are monitoring all hearings.”

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