For weeks now, breadcrumbs have been emerging which collectively served to strongly suggest that the Department of Justice has in fact been building a criminal case against Donald Trump. It’s reportedly been asking Capitol attackers to formally attest that Trump incited them. It’s been attempting to flip the Oath Keepers against members of Trump’s inner circle, and so on. Now the DOJ is directly confirming that it’s looking into at least one aspect of the Trump 2020 campaign’s actions.
Last week multiple state-level Attorneys General publicly filed criminal referrals with the Department of Justice in relation to the scheme to file phony election certificates falsely claiming that Donald Trump won the 2020 election. Last night Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco confirmed to CNN that the DOJ is “reviewing” the matter. This may not sound like much. But given the notoriously tight lipped nature of the Garland DOJ, it’s actually a big deal, for two reasons.
First, this DOJ basically never says anything about still-in-progress actions that it’s taking. Yet in this instance the number two person at the DOJ sat down with a major media outlet – knowing that this question was coming – and instead of saying “we don’t comment on such matters,” she confirmed that DOJ is in fact looking into the matter.
Second, last week CNN reported that the phony election certificate scheme was in fact coordinated by Rudy Giuliani and other unnamed Trump 2020 campaign officials. Now that the DOJ is publicly confirming that it’s looking into that scheme, by definition it means that the DOJ is looking into the Trump 2020 campaign. That’s huge.
Skeptics are going to insist that the DOJ merely “looking into” the Trump campaign is not enough. But given how reserved this DOJ is with its words, “looking into” is the most that we’re going to get for now; even if the DOJ is already deep into a criminal inquiry into the Trump 2020 campaign, it wouldn’t tell us as much right now. And to be clear, when you’re investigating something, you’re literally “looking into” the matter. So yes, this means that the DOJ is investigating the matter. The only question is whether it’s reached the level of a formal criminal investigation or if it’s merely an informal investigation to determine whether to open a criminal investigation.
As a side note, we still don’t know whether the DOJ already knew about the election certificate scheme at the time the media publicly broke it open; for all we know the DOJ may have already been probing this for months, and the recent state-level criminal referrals were merely for something that the DOJ is already probing.
While there are a number of unknowns here, we should stop and take in just how big of a deal it is that the DOJ and its secretive leadership just made a point of telling us all that they’re looking into a criminal conspiracy that was orchestrated by some of Donald Trump’s top 2020 campaign officials. So much for the notion that Merrick Garland and his DOJ are doing “nothing” about Trump.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report