A plurality of Americans, 39 percent, say they do not think former President Donald Trump will face criminal charges for documents Trump says he declassified that were seized by the FBI in an Aug. 8 raid of his Palm Beach, Fla. residence, Mar-a-Lago, the latest Economist-YouGov poll shows.
Just 29 percent do expect an indictment, but a good chunk of those are Democrats in the poll, including 47 percent of whom do think Trump will face criminal charges, and 25 percent who do not.
Whereas, 56 percent of Republicans say there will be no indictment, with just 14 percent saying there will be one.
Crucially, 41 percent of independents are not expecting the former president to be brought up on charges by the Biden Justice Department. Only 21 percent say Trump will be.
Suffice to say, the American people are not currently expecting Trump to be brought up on criminal charges. Maybe because that’s crazy.
Never before has any president, as President Joe Biden has done, idly stood aside while his Justice Department intervened in U.S. politics to potentially prosecute his political opponent who says he’s likely running against in him the next election, let alone against a former president.
Biden just gave a speech about violence being used to political ends, that is, against uses of force designed to achieve a political outcome. The government commands a monopoly on the legitimate use of force, but those tend to become illegitimate especially when they violate political and constitutional norms.
By allowing the Justice Department under Attorney General Merrick Garland, the worst Attorney General ever, to raid Trump’s home is a far greater use of force, yes, by Biden, than anything Trump ever did.
That includes Trump giving his speech on the National Mall on Jan. 6 urging his supporters to “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard” in opposition to Congress approving the 2020 Electoral College in favor of President Joe Biden. He had a First Amendment right to be there and to make the speech. There was no incitement to violence by Trump.
As for the riot, Justice Department criminal cases show was pre-meditated weeks before the speech by third parties.
In the meantime, the Justice Department is actually sitting on documents that Trump ordered to be declassified prior to leaving office, including documents related to the unconstitutional Crossfire Hurricane investigation that falsely alleged that Trump and his 2016 campaign were Russian agents who helped Moscow to hack the DNC server and post their emails on Wikileaks. That wasn’t true, but it set off a years long investigation—the Mueller report found no Trump-Russia conspiracy—that Trump sought to publicly expose via his declassification authorities as he was leaving office.
But the Justice Department will not comply with the Trump order, which came in writing on Jan. 19, 2021, the day before Trump left office, stating, “I hereby declassify the remaining materials in the binder. This is my final determination under the declassification review and I have directed the Attorney General to implement the redactions proposed in the FBI’s January 17 submission and return to the White House an appropriately redacted copy.” But the redacted copies were never returned.
And now afterward, the Justice Department is seeking to criminalize Trump’s valid use of declassification authority—an implied executive power under Article II of the Constitution—as it pertained to the Crossfire Hurricane documents it still refuses to release in their redacted form, and for whatever other documents were seized from Mar-a-Lago that Trump says were declassified prior to leaving office.
The President as the unitary executive under Article II of the Constitution could intervene and demand the Justice Department not prosecute Trump, but this has not happened. Quite the opposite, with Biden calling Trump and Republicans as “threats to the foundations of our republic” in his hyperpartisan Sept. 1 “soul of the nation” speech.
This is clearly political for Biden.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon has appointed a special master to review the documents in the case to remove anything covered as either personal documents or those shielded by executive privilege or attorney-client privilege, but now the Justice Department, determined to continue their quest to get Trump at any cost, is appealing the appointment and the injunction Cannon placed on the criminal investigation at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
All good sense suggests Biden and the Justice Department should back down from this dangerous escalation of political tensions on the eve of the Congressional midterm elections. And polls show, that’s exactly what the American people are expecting will happen.
Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.
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