Democratic Senators Wary Of Prosecuting Trump After He Leaves Office
Democratic senators are suspicious of the prosecution of Donald Trump and members of his administration after he leaves office next year. The decision to investigate a former president should be left to independent Justice Department attorneys under President Joe Biden.
The idea - a hot topic during the Democratic President's primary election - gained momentum this week after Rep. Bill Pascrell (DN.J.) called for the president and his aides to be prosecuted for the past four years "Countless crimes" had resigned from office, including benefiting from the presidency, separating immigrant families and, most recently, undermining the November 3rd elections.
Pascrell, a vocal Trump critic who spearheaded the House's efforts to obtain Trump's tax returns, said the failure to hold Trump accountable would encourage "the crime of our national leaders" and "keep America on the path." Bring lawlessness and authoritarianism ".
Progressives applauded Pascrell and urged other lawmakers to join him. They argued that a passport for someone like Trump would give the go-ahead for breaking the law by future potential authorities. Trump is reportedly considering running for president again in 2024, but even if he doesn't, his influence in the Republican Party won't end after he leaves the White House in January.
Currently, Trump is protected from federal charges by the Justice Department's longstanding policies - the same policies that prevented Special Adviser Robert Mueller from recommending the president's indictment after his investigation into the Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential battle. However, this immunity ends when Trump becomes a private citizen and potentially holds him criminally liable.
For example, the New York prosecutor's office is grappling with an investigation into Trump's business before and during his tenure, including whether he misled tax officials and violated campaign funding laws. He is also being charged by two women who sexually assaulted him decades ago. It is not clear whether these investigations will ultimately lead to charges.
There are still numerous allegations of corruption against Trump and his family that have received little scrutiny from law enforcement. After Trump promised to retire from his business in his election as president, he instead used both his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and his hotel in Washington as places to freely meet with political donors and favor seekers, and repeatedly used government funds to promote its golf courses, hotels and resorts.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive for their Christmas Eve party at Trump's Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach, Florida on December 24, 2019. (Photo: Leah Millis / Reuters)
Meanwhile, Biden is said to be reluctant to pursue further investigations into Trump in the hope of ushering in a tumultuous time in American history by advancing his own legislative agenda and fighting the coronavirus. Biden "has raised concerns that investigations would further divide a country he is trying to unite and risk talking about Trump every day of his presidency," people close to him told NBC News.
Democratic senators who voted to convict the president of his impeachment offense against Ukraine also appeared reluctant to initiate a new investigation.
"I think they have a lot of priorities," Dick Durbin of Illinois told the Biden administration's HuffPost. "That shouldn't be the first."
"I think there needs to be some accountability, but I'm not sure what form or method this should take," said Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal.
During her presidential election, Senator Elizabeth Warren repeatedly called for investigations into Trump and his administration, and even promised to set up a special task force within the Justice Department to investigate corruption in the Trump era. But even Warren declined to respond directly when asked if charges should be brought against the Trump administration.
"I don't think anyone should be above the law," Warren told HuffPost.
Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono said she personally believes Trump should bring charges after he resigns.
"But I'm not going to call the nearest [Attorney General] and tell them what to do," Hirono added quickly.
Democrats said they believe restoring the prosecutor's independence in the Justice Department is of paramount importance following the corrosive influence of Attorney General Bill Barr, who turned the department into unrivaled Trump political interests. Barr repeatedly intervened in criminal cases in which Trump allies were involved in their favor, personally ordered violence against peaceful protesters outside the White House and attempted to disrupt an investigation into a Turkish bank after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Trump had pressured.
Allowing the DOJ to independently decide whether or not to prosecute Trump would legitimize the effort, which is why Biden's election for the next attorney general will likely determine which direction his administration goes. His possible favorites include centrist lawmakers and prosecutors, including Alabama Senator Doug Jones, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, and National Democratic Committee Chairman Tom Perez.
Some progressives claim not holding Trump and his supporters accountable would be as big a mistake as President Barack Obama's failure to prosecute Wall Street executives for the economic collapse in 2007.
However, the persecution of a former president - itself an unprecedented scenario - could also pose a serious risk to Biden's presidency by diverting attention from his agenda. The list is long, and without the Senate's Democratic scrutiny, it will take Biden ample Republican goodwill to get some of it off.
"The idea that prosecuting Trump's crimes would consume enormous amounts of media and public attention and undermine other issues is correct," said Adam Jentleson, a Democratic strategist who served as a top adviser to former Nevada Senator Harry Reid stood by the side. “The idea that this is mere retribution is wrong. As with any crime, this would show that criminals are being held accountable. "
Trump purposely undermines belief in democracy. The GOP helps.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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