Major news outlets are reporting today that the DOJ is criminally indicting Donald Trump for espionage and obstruction and that it could happen as soon as tomorrow. It’s also being reported that Mark Meadows cut a limited immunity deal and cooperated against Trump. Jack Smith will get significant credit for coming in and being an effective closer, as he should. But we really need to talk about the role that Merrick Garland played in this, and the fact that nearly everyone’s take on Garland was wrong all along.
If you’re surprised today to learn that Meadows has secretly had an immunity deal all this time, or that the DOJ secretly had a second classified documents grand jury in Florida all this time, that’s because you’re supposed to be surprised by it. This stuff is kept secret for a reason: if the public doesn’t know about these things, then neither do the criminal targets, meaning they can’t do anything to try to foil any of it.
But all that secrecy from the DOJ was widely misinterpreted as inaction. Dummies on Twitter, and even dummies on TV, keep yelling things like “The DOJ is doing nothing” and “Merrick Garland is a coward who needs to grow a spine!”
We heard this clueless simplistic nonsense over and over again, and shockingly, it was widely accepted as being legitimate professional analysis. Actual legal experts and actual former prosecutors kept trying to point out that these processes are all done in secret, and that a lack of recent headlines about a probe does not mean a lack of recent action or progress. But most audiences were emotionally sucked into believing the outrage inducing claims that Garland was doing “nothing.”
Meanwhile back in the real world, even before Jack Smith was on the case, Merrick Garland’s DOJ was doing the painstaking work of building up a comprehensive enough case to convince the court system to wave executive privilege and order the likes of Mike Pence to testify against Trump. That testimony ultimately happened under Smith’s watch, the groundwork to make it happen was done before Smith arrived.
By the way, let’s remember that Garland who decided to bring in Jack Smith from The Hague. Garland saw that the DOJ’s Trump case was reaching a point of progress where it needed a closer to come in and seal the deal, and that’s what Smith has done. The same folks who have insisted Garland was doing “nothing” have also tried to portray Garland and Smith as rivals, with Smith wanting to indict Trump and Garland reluctant. But this is all made up nonsense, outright fiction that they’ve invented in order to fit their existing “Garland is doing nothing” narrative.
Again, back in the real world, Merrick Garland pitched a quiet but highly effective first eight innings of the DOJ’s Trump probe, and then he brought in Jack Smith to strike Trump out in the ninth inning. Score one for Garland. In spite of endless hyperbolic and outright fictional criticism, Garland successfully guided the DOJ to indicting Trump for espionage and flipping Meadows against him in the process.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report