Why criminal cases against Trump are doomed

By | March 23, 2022

Paul Rosenzweig writes:

Attorney General Merrick Garland is not going to save democracy. Nor is the attorney general of New York, Letitia James; the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg; nor the Fulton County district attorney, Fani Willis. As the apparent collapse of the New York district attorney’s investigation makes clear, criminal cases are hard to make. Donald Trump, despite his many seemingly criminal acts, is unlikely to ever spend a day in jail.

Observers of the Trump malignancy have an unfortunate habit of wish casting—believing that their most optimistic fantasies will become reality. They did this with the Mueller investigation—remember “It’s Mueller Time”?—and they did it with both of Trump’s impeachments. Their dream has always been that somehow, somewhere, someone would call Trump to account for his actions and, in doing so, save American democracy.

Today, many invest the ongoing criminal investigations of Trump in New York, Georgia, and Washington, D.C., with the same hopes. Even my good friend George Conway has speculated that this time things might be different.

I don’t see it happening. Please don’t misunderstand; I am as convinced as anyone of the criminality of Trump’s conduct, and nothing would please me more than to see him get his deserved comeuppance. He should, and very well may, be indicted in one or more of these jurisdictions. And the civil suits against him may have legs.

But years of experience prosecuting fraught political cases (and defending others) has taught me that the criminal law is a blunt tool for achieving justice and a poor means of resolving political issues. In my judgment, the chances that Trump will be convicted of any crime are slim to none. And though I am no political analyst, my guess is that a failure to convict will only embolden him and his followers. [Continue reading…]

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