The Department of Justice should open investigations into the crimes former President Donald Trump is credibly alleged to have committed while running for office and during his presidency and should prosecute Trump in those cases where the facts and law support it, according to a letter sent today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Should Attorney General Merrick Garland choose not to pursue criminal charges against Trump where the facts and the law merit them, it would be a betrayal of the rule of law and a deeply political act itself.
Trump has been credibly accused of committing at least 49 criminal offenses while running for office and during his time in office. Nine of Trump’s alleged crimes stem from his 2016 campaign for president, 13 relate to his attempts to obstruct the Russia and Special Counsel investigation and at least 22 of them relate to his criminal efforts to gain electoral advantages in the 2020 election or steal it outright after he lost. The vast majority of these offenses fall under the DOJ’s jurisdiction.
“If the Justice Department does not undertake a serious investigation of the crimes Donald Trump is credibly alleged to have committed and prosecute him for any crimes supported by that investigation, Merrick Garland will be sending a signal that the law does not apply to you if you’ve been elected president,” said CREW President Noah Bookbinder. “Upholding the rule of law is critical for the future of our democracy and public faith in our justice system. Moving forward and prosecuting Donald Trump in any instance where the facts and law support criminal charges will send a clear message that no one, including a former president, is above the law.”
Attorney General Garland’s previous public commitments to upholding the law are necessary to restoring the DOJ’s independence and integrity, especially in its processes and investigations. In March, CREW published a report detailing Trump’s staggering levels of corruption. Despite mountains of evidence of his wrongdoing, he has not yet been charged with a single criminal offense, and there is no public indication of any federal criminal investigation into him. Attorney General Garland must follow the law and the facts to investigate Trump’s apparent illegal activity and to ensure that criminals cannot be insulated from accountability because they are or were prominent political figures. If the DOJ is unwilling to pursue meritorious prosecutions that could be attacked as political, it will be unable to deliver equal justice under the law.
“If the DOJ fails to investigate Trump for legitimate allegations of criminal conduct, it will be prioritizing politics over justice,” said Bookbinder. “We urge Attorney General Garland to stick to his commitments to upholding the rule of law. Our democracy depends on it.”