When media reports first arose weeks ago that Attorney General Merrick Garland was considering the idea of appointing the Special Counsel to oversee the criminal prosecution of Donald Trump, I’ll admit I blew off the idea – but only because this DOJ so rarely lets anything leak, and I didn’t think the reports were necessarily even real. But now it turns out those reports were real, or the media landed on an extraordinarily lucky guess, because Garland has indeed appointed a Special Counsel.
This has, inexplicably yet somehow not surprisingly, set off a whole new round of doomsday hysteria about Trump “getting away with it all.” That’s just the mindset some folks are irretrievably stuck in, and no amount of facts, evidence, or logic is going to bring them back to reality. But the reality is that this move does indeed mean the DOJ has decided to prosecute Trump, and realistically it means that multiple DOJ teams are looking to prosecute Trump.
Why do I say that? Garland has already let various DOJ teams build the criminal cases against Trump that they want to bring. We know about the classified documents case and the election related case, both of which are reportedly deep into the grand jury stage. There has also been reporting that the DOJ is investigating the finances behind Trump’s social media platform and other matters. All these criminal cases against Trump have been progressing within the DOJ, each being handled on their own. These cases are seemingly at or near the end stage and ready for prosecution. Now Garland is appointing a Special Counsel to oversee them all, and the only reason to do that is if Garland sees multiple viable cases against Trump, and feels they need a traffic cop coordinating those cases on a daily basis.
In other words, the DOJ’s prosecution of Donald Trump is ready to go on multiple fronts. Special Counsel Jack Smith’s job will be to decide which of those various criminal cases are viable enough to get convictions, and in what order and grouping they should be brought. Are all of the various charges solid enough to get trial jury convictions beyond a reasonable doubt, or are some of the more tangential charges too iffy to bring? Among the charges that Smith does decide to greenlight, will they be brought in one big indictment, or as separate criminal cases?
Someone has to sort this all out, and Garland has decided that Smith is that guy. Why isn’t Garland just doing this himself? Because overseeing any given criminal case on a daily basis is not the Attorney General’s job. It’s the job of the leader of each DOJ prosecution team. And since there appear to be multiple DOJ prosecution teams gunning for Donald Trump, each with their own leader, the Special Counsel will spend each day running those teams in tandem.
Some folks are simply going to refuse to see it this way because they’re defeatists who don’t ever want good news to be true, but the reality is that this Special Counsel appointment is fantastic news. It means in effect that the DOJ has not only decided to indict Donald Trump, it’s looking to indict him on multiple fronts. It’s not just going to bring one kind of charges against him. It’s going to bring all viable charges that can reasonably be expected to result in a guilty verdict at trial.
So precisely when will Trump’s indictment happen? My stock answer continues to be, who cares? All along it’s only mattered that Trump does get indicted, and that charges are brought in a way that results in conviction. Obviously the DOJ has to build a timeframe around the 2024 election and work backwards, to ensure that Trump is convicted well before the 2024 election cycle gets underway.
In the end, Trump accomplished precisely nothing by declaring his 2024 presidential “campaign” last week. Now that we’ve seen Garland appoint a Special Counsel just after the midterms, it’s easy to figure out that Garland was always going to do this, regardless of what Trump did or didn’t announce. Trump’s announcement didn’t magically stop the DOJ from putting a Special Counsel in place to indict him. I told you Trump would end up going to prison, and it’s now more clear than ever that we are pretty far down that path.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report