Earlier this week a false and since-corrected story from the Associated Press claimed that Merrick Garland’s DOJ had decided to let Wilbur Ross off on perjury charges. It created a new round of doomsday panic among liberal pundits who are somehow more certain than ever that Donald Trump and his associates are going to “get away with it all no matter what.”
But the real world came crashing down on that doomsday delusion yesterday when Thomas Barrack – a key Trump administration operative whose departure in mid 2017 was so long ago that most of the public forgot he even existed – was indicted and arrested for Trump-related crimes he committed years ago. If Barrack thought he was off the legal hook just because he bailed on the Trump regime early on, he’s learning the hard way that the DOJ under Merrick Garland isn’t operating that way.
Now that the DOJ is known to be going as far back as the earliest days of the Trump regime to nail Trump associates and underlings for their Trump-related crimes, none of them are safe. We already more or less knew this back when the Feds raided the homes of former Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Victoria Toensing for, among other things, their roles in the Trump-Ukraine scandal. But now we have confirmation that the DOJ’s probes into Trump world go all the way back to the beginning of the Trump administration.
This doesn’t mean that every Trump associate or underling will go down. For one thing, not all of them committed crimes. Then there’s the fact that not all alleged crimes can be proven to a jury. Keep in mind that the DOJ makes its charging decisions based on likelihood of conviction. So no, not every Trump henchman will be indicted. But it’s starting to look like every Trump henchman who committed a provable crime will be charged.
Then there’s the inevitable prisoner’s dilemma. If Tom Barrack cuts a plea deal and cooperates, for instance, then suddenly prosecutors will be able to make a whole bunch more charges stick against various Trump world figures. Which of those people will decide to hurry up and flip while there are still deals to be had? And once Giuliani and Toensing are arrested, they’ll each have to decide whether to be the first to flip on the other.
This also serves as a reminder that federal criminal probes into far reaching and complicated crime schemes can indeed take a long time to unravel. The Feds now finally feel confident enough about getting a conviction against Barrack, for things he did circa 2017, that they’ve gone ahead and arrested him. There is every reason to expect that federal criminal cases against other Trump underlings and associates, and that they’ll result in indictments once prosecutors reach that same point of confidence in those cases. No one in Trump world is safe now.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report