I begin with a caveat. What I am about to say is conjecture, unsupported by physical or documentary evidence and, as far as I know, unvoiced by anyone else. But the conclusion is so compelling (to me, anyway) that I share it with you, brothers and sisters, for the first time.
I believe that, among the many excellent reasons Attorney General Merrick Garland has seen fit to appoint a special counsel to superintend the several criminal investigations into Donald Trump, there may be room for one or two more reasons. First, prior to his appointment as America’s top law enforcement officer, Mr. Garland spent the previous 25 years or so as a judge. Though he began the most serious part of his public professional life as a prosecutor, his recent experience has been in the staid and careful realm of the judiciary. Mr. Garland thinks, and correctly I would venture to say, that the job of prosecuting Trump should fall to a younger man or woman with more recent prosecutorial combat experience.
Such a person, with the almost comically average name of Jack Smith, has been found. Interestingly, it turns out that Mr. Smith is that rare thing, a prosecutor who does not take into account his own prosecutorial win/loss record when deciding whether or not to indict.
Second, I think the AG understands how delicate this matter is, and it’s part of his recent experience with the judiciary, together with his known personal habit of fanatical circumspection about the appearance of impropriety, that drives him. He doesn’t want any hint of political bias to pollute the process. Any pursuit of Trump must therefore be done without fear or favour, without passion or prejudice.
Finally, I think Mr. Garland understands that the time to prosecute Donald Trump has finally arrived. The investigative part is over and it’s time to indict. Merrick Garland inherited the office of the attorney general from a man who used it as a personal weapon to protect and avenge Donald Trump, and he wants to avoid any similar appearance of prosecutorial misconduct or bias. Therefore Garland believes the job of prosecuting Trump should fall to someone else — but it should happen and it should happen RIGHT NOW.
I think Mr. Garland knows that any prosecutor will look at the evidence he and his various teams have amassed and reach the same conclusion he has: that sufficient cause has been shown to proceed with an indictment of the former president of the United States. In other words, the time we have all been so desperately waiting for has come at long last. In short, this is Merrick Garland’s way of saying he intends that Donald Trump be prosecuted and the prosecution is to begin right away, within the next 30 to 90 days.
Do you agree? It all makes sense to me. But making sense and being true are often two different things. I hope it’s true, because it suggests two possibilities. First that Donald Trump will be pursued without any appearance of partisan bias, and second that Republicans will have less cause to complain or misrepresent his prosecution as a witch hunt.
Of course they will cry “witch hunt” anyway, but fewer people will believe them. More people will look at the circumstances and think to themselves that every effort was made to ensure a fair and impartial prosecution, insofar as it was possible to do so in these turbulent times.
Whether or not I am right (or even original in these thoughts) remains to be seen. Whatever the case, now is the time to watch and wait. It may not even be premature to lay in a fresh supply of popcorn. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.