We spent six months seeing one sign after another that made clear the DOJ was criminally investigating Donald Trump, and that it was making concrete progress in terms of closing in on him. But if you’d woken up Monday morning and placed a bet that the Feds would raid Mar-a-Lago by the end of the day, you could have gotten some amazing Vegas odds on that. And even after the Trump raid, if you’d then woken up Tuesday morning and placed a bet that the Feds would seize the cellphone of a member of Congress by the end of the day, you could have made yourself even richer.
The point is that, after spending months watching isolated details periodically surface about these two DOJ criminal probes into Donald Trump, they’re now both at the point where the DOJ feels confident taking the kind of historic action that it wouldn’t dare take if it didn’t have overwhelming criminal cases in place to support such actions when they’re inevitably judged in a court of law and in the court of public opinion.
In the relatively short amount of time between when I’m writing this and when you’re reading it, it’s entirely possible that the landscape will have changed entirely yet again. Perhaps Rudy Giuliani will be arrested. Perhaps a court filing will reveal that Mark Meadows has cut a plea deal. Perhaps the DOJ will carry out a search warrant at Trump Tower. Or maybe nothing will happen on Wednesday. And by “nothing” I mean that perhaps the DOJ now has to go back under cover of secrecy for a brief stretch in order to take the legal steps that are procedurally required before its next move, and that whatever the DOJ does for the rest of the week, none of it’ll be within public view.
The point is that we have no idea what’s coming next, or when. We only know that, with the DOJ now going this far, a lot more is about to play out, and before much longer. Really, the DOJ doesn’t send the FBI into Mar-a-Lago with a search and seizure warrant, and leave with fifteen boxes of classified documents, unless the DOJ feels that it’s fully prepped for the fight of a lifetime.
The kicker of course is that not only do we have no idea what the DOJ might do today or tomorrow, neither does anyone on the wrong end of it. Right now every House and Senate Republican who communicated with Trump on January 6th, or about the fake elector plot, is lying awake and wondering if they’re next. And that’s probably what the DOJ is aiming for. If it can spook any of these idiots into panicking and trying to destroy evidence, then it can nail them for obstruction, and try to force them to flip on Trump.
There’s a reason why the DOJ – particularly Merrick Garland’s disciplined DOJ – works almost entirely in secrecy. It’s not because Garland has a flair for the dramatic and likes to keep people guessing so he can yell “ta da” later. It’s because if you’re a prosecutor, there is a clear strategic advantage to keeping your targets guessing and making panic moves. Dumb criminals are the DOJ’s best friend. And if the DOJ can bait folks in Trump world into making dumb moves right now, it’ll pay off in spades. The reason why none of us knows what the DOJ is about to do next is so that none of them knows what the DOJ is about to do next.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report