It’s now clear that the DOJ has been moving forward against Donald Trump on multiple coordinated fronts for quite awhile. Classified documents. Fake electors. Financial fraud. Grand juries for each. Trump uses a parlor trick to delay the DOJ by a week on one front, and the DOJ still moves forward on other fronts.
What’s the DOJ’s timeframe and endgame? We have no way of knowing for sure, and neither does Trump. But it appears the DOJ is building up to indict him on various kinds of criminal charges all at once.
The DOJ had two options for strategy. First option: hit Trump with one indictment at a time. Pros: gradually wear him and his base down. Cons: when that first charge is brought, the media will pretend it’s the only charge, underplay it, and say “Trump will get away with it all.”
Second option, and the one it appears the DOJ is going with: hit Trump with so many different kinds of criminal charges, either on the same day or back to back to back, and the sheer magnitude of the charges makes clear to everyone that he’s finished.
Because no charges have been brought against Trump yet, there are still those who insist that “if it hasn’t happened by now, it’ll never happen.” That’s an emotional take, devoid of logic, right up there with “it isn’t raining right now, so it’ll never rain.”
But the public’s angst and fear is understandable, particularly after the media and pundit class spent the first half of the year baselessly claiming that Trump had gotten away with it all. So let’s talk about where we really are in this process.
The DOJ probe into Trump’s fake electors reached the grand jury stage in January. The DOJ probe into Trump’s classified documents reached the grand jury stage in May. Both these stories were broken by major news outlets, who played them up for less than 24 hours, before ignoring them and going back to insisting the DOJ was doing “nothing.” But this alone was confirmation that the DOJ was looking to indict Trump and take him down.
If you’re the DOJ and you’re criminally investigating a former President, you don’t go to grand jury unless you intend to finish the job. And a search and seizure warrant of the target’s home is just a natural, expected progression of a grand jury probe.
So while the news that the FBI had entered Trump’s home was “holy cow” moment for me, simply because of the magnitude, I had been fully expecting since May for something like this to happen. I wasn’t surprised by it, and you shouldn’t have been either.
It was never clear if the grand jury probe into Trump’s fake electors would result in a search of his home (for what?). But it seemed pretty obvious that a grand jury probe into Trump for stealing classified documents was going to result in a search of his home. Why wouldn’t it?
The only answers to “Why wouldn’t it?” are media-driven nonsense like “DOJ has already let Trump off the hook” or “Garland is a coward” or “This is all too unprecedented to ever happen” or the other popular but idiotic narratives that dominated the first half of this year.
So if you never bought into those laugh out loud silly media narratives, and you only went with the facts, you saw the DOJ launch a grand jury probe into Trump in May for stealing things, which led to a search of his home in August. All pretty simple, if you ignored the noise.
If the Feds carry out a search and seizure warrant at someone’s home, and they don’t find what they were looking for, then maybe the investigation is in trouble and goes away. But when they do find what they’re looking for, it’s on to the indictment stage.
Of course there are numerous procedural steps to get from the seizure warrant stage to the indictment stage, as we keep seeing. Even without this special master red herring, how many court hearings has the DOJ had to have about the seized evidence? And that’s on top of whatever the DOJ has had to take back to the grand jury now that it’s seized the evidence from Trump’s home. Also, carrying out a search warrant and actually finding the evidence you thought you would, means you now get to obtain additional warrants if you want or need them.
Even as the media force-feeds us endless headlines about a special master, who isn’t going to play much of a role and isn’t going to be there long, the DOJ is busy doing other things in this probe behind the scenes. What are those other things? That’s the entire point. We don’t get to know, and neither does Trump. How many more witnesses has it put in front of the classified documents grand jury since it carried out the seizure warrant? How many followup probes has that evidence launched?
You can bet money that if the DOJ cultivated cooperators inside Mar-a-Lago, it also cultivated cooperators within Trump’s other residences to track potential evidence there as well. This is investigation 101 stuff. The alarmist “DOJ must raid Trump Tower right now!!!” tweets are good for going viral, but they’re silly nonsense.
As if the DOJ is so obliviously naive, it forgot that Trump has other residences. Come on. Twitter’s constant need to portray the DOJ as a bunch of naively oblivious damsels in distress is just surreal. As if the DOJ are a bunch of clueless morons.
Then again, the media and pundit class has spent the past year chasing ratings and retweets by portraying the DOJ as clueless morons, so perhaps it’s not surprising that this false perception has sunk in with the public.
In any case the notion that Trump has somehow accomplished anything by delaying a portion of one of the DOJ’s multiple probes into him by a week, is beyond silly. But we’ll see endless headlines about this special master distraction, because it’s the only headline the media has.
It’s far bigger news that the DOJ has subpoenaed more than a dozen Trump associates (including Stephen Miller) in a probe into Trump’s fraudulent fundraising in connection to his election overthrow plot. This means the DOJ is looking to nail Trump for profiting from his failed attempt at overthrowing the election. Which in turn means it’s looking to nail him for trying to overthrow the election. Following the money is how the DOJ helps nail down the underlying crimes, while also lining up money-based charges which serve to enhance and provide backup for the underlying charges. Even if a jury doesn’t convict Trump for seditious conspiracy, it’ll convict him for his related fundraising fraud, because those crimes are proven right there in the numbers.
And now you see why it takes the Feds so long to take down a slippery figure, whether it’s a mafia boss or Donald Trump. It’s had to prove his underlying crimes, prove his other underlying crimes, prove his financial crimes related to his underlying crimes, and on and on. This is how he ends up convicted, not acquitted.
In the meantime there are endless cries from the public about how he’s “getting away with it all,” but that’s really just a sign of the public’s lack of understanding of how these things work.
We’re also hearing endless cries about the “damage” Trump is still doing by still being on the loose. But no one can define that supposed “damage” without making up hyperbolic things that Trump is supposedly doing behind a naive DOJ’s back, which itself is a laughably naive take.
All these complaints of “why hasn’t Trump been indicted yet” are merely coming from people who are increasingly sick of his shit and want him over with. And that’s a good thing. The DOJ is about to arrest a former President. It’s hoping most people will yell “it’s about time!”
Not that the DOJ has been slow rolling anything just to build up public anticipation and desire for it to happen. Not at all. Nothing works that way. The DOJ has just been doing things the way they’re done, and the public’s naivete about the timeframe is working in its favor.
The notion of Merrick Garland sitting there fretting and saying “oh no I’m feeling the pressure now, I guess I’ll finally have to indict Trump” is HILARIOUS. Come on. He already has his timetable, and he’s loving that more and more of the public is rooting for it to happen. Garland was going to do it anyway, but now he has public momentum at his back.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report