As GOP investigates prosecutors, experts worry about judicial independence

As GOP investigates prosecutors, experts worry about judicial independence

The Washington Post reports:

Investigate the investigator.

That has been the operating thesis of the GOP’s playbook to counter the myriad criminal investigations into Donald Trump, the de facto leader of the Republican Party. Interrogating investigators’ methods and scruples is a strategy that has been utilized by both parties during tumultuous moments, and is a well-worn tool for lawmakers seeking to appease constituents hungry for the appearance of oversight on polarizing issues.

The strategy has been effective in shaping public opinion of the investigations after years of sustained broadsides against the judicial system by Trump and his top allies. A Washington Post-FiveThirtyEight-Ipsos poll last month showed 75 percent of potential Republican primary voters said charges against the former president across various investigations were politically motivated.

But in the wake of 91 criminal charges against Trump, the party’s blitz of attacks on prosecutors threatens to degrade an important precedent that protects prosecutorial independence and the ability to fairly root out wrongdoing without partisan influence or gain, according to legal experts.

“Big picture, this does seem incredibly troubling,” said Caren Morrison, a former federal prosecutor who is an associate professor at Georgia State University College of Law. “For years I’ve told my students that one principle we can always rely on is the principle of prosecutorial discretion — it is unassailable and that is the essence of their power: They can choose which cases to pursue and which cases not to pursue. … We are kind of at a point where nobody agrees on what the rules are.”

So far, congressional investigations have been launched against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, special counsel Jack Smith, and most recently, Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis — all of whom have charged Trump with crimes. And state lawmakers have begun discussions to remove Willis from her seat through a disciplinary commission in Georgia — one of several states that have recently adopted laws aimed at reining in the power of locally elected prosecutors. [Continue reading…]

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