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Beastly Boy

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Member since: Fri Mar 18, 2016, 12:21 PM
Number of posts: 4,886

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There is a gap in the evidence we've seen against Trump. We have to rely on the DOJ to fill it

The criticism of the Department of Justice continues to grow: Detractors see the department as too far behind the Jan. 6 committee. They want to know why Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland and the Justice Department have yet to come forward with a serious criminal charge against Donald Trump.

These gloomy observations miss at least one crucial point: There is a gap in the committee’s development of the Jan. 6 evidence for the most serious yet fitting charge against Trump. And it seems likely that only the Justice Department can fill it.

First, remember that the Justice Department may be much further along than we know; its work initially is always largely opaque. And the department has also had its hands full dealing with hundreds of on-the-ground rioters, as well as investigating false elector schemes and other possible crimes connected to the 2020 election and committed by figures in the former president's inner circle.

It's also important to bear in mind the fundamentally different tasks of the department and the committee. The House hearings aim to present a general narrative of Team Trump’s attempt to undo President Biden’s victory, along with the facts to back it up. The Justice Department, on the other hand, needs to develop a legal case consisting of admissible evidence proving criminal guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and if possible beyond Republican cavil as well.

What crime exactly? Here’s another important difference between the department’s task and Congress’. The committee’s work has given rise to a sort of parlor game of “name that Trump crime” among commentators, everything from manslaughter to destruction of federal property. That won’t cut it for the Justice Department.

Even assuming that the department could prove any number of offenses on the part of Trump, Garland would not take the unprecedented step of prosecuting a former president unless the charge involved a grave crime against the U.S. Most likely, that charge would be seditious conspiracy. It’s the most serious of any leveled so far against those involved in the insurrection attempt, and for most Americans, it captures the fundamental evil that Trump has wrought.


The Justice Department’s critics are wrong to conclude that Garland’s work has been done for him in Congress, much less to upbraid him for not having already brought charges against the former president. Garland deserves the presumption that, as promised, he is going after insurrectionists “at all levels,” and that the department will do the heavy lifting to induce a loyalist to turn on the former president.

Unless and until Garland succeeds, Trump, by virtue of the committee’s outstanding work, may stand guilty in the public’s mind and in the judgment of history, but there’s no holding him criminally accountable in a court of law.


Prosecute Trump? Merrick Garland is investigating aggressively but prosecuting cautiously

“It’s definitely not a slam-dunk,” Paul Rosenzweig, a former federal prosecutor (and anti-Trump Republican), told me last week. “It will require tough decisions.”

The problem isn’t lack of evidence. The former Trump aides who have testified before the House committee and been interviewed by the FBI have taken care of that.

The problem, Rosenzweig and other former prosecutors said, is that convincing a jury that Trump is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt will still be difficult — especially when the former president, armed with good lawyers, can challenge that evidence.

“We know from the polls that about 30% of the American people think Trump did nothing wrong on Jan. 6,” Rosenzweig said. “Thirty percent of a jury is three or four people. I think getting a unanimous conviction will be nearly impossible, even in the liberal District of Columbia.”

And a trial that ends in Trump’s acquittal, he warned, would backfire.

“It would not only have the effect of giving Trump impunity,” he said, "it would give him impunity and an aura of invincibility.

Others disagree. Donald B. Ayer, another Republican former prosecutor, thinks a conviction would be possible. “Trump was ready to have Mike Pence be killed,” Ayer said. “You tell that story to a jury, and I think you win.”

But Ayer notes that Justice Department regulations require that prosecutors believe they have a high probability of winning a conviction before they can indict. By that standard, what Garland is doing is both correct and by the book. He’s investigating aggressively — but prosecuting cautiously.”


So you can have evidence up the wazoo and may still have no reason to believe you can win a conviction. You can have a reason to believe you can win a conviction, but you may still not get a unanimous verdict from a jury. You can prosecute all you want, but mistrial or Trump's acquittal are two possible outcomes that are far worse than not indicting him in the first place.

Garland will have to face the consequences of his decisions and actions. None of his critics will ever have to do that.

Rights group: Palestinians torture detainees with impunity

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip systematically torture critics in detention, a practice that could amount to crimes against humanity, an international rights group said Friday.

Human Rights Watch called in its report for donor countries to cut off funding to Palestinian security forces that commit such crimes and urged the International Criminal Court to investigate.

The report alleged that Palestinian security forces “use solitary confinement and beatings, including whipping their feet, and force detainees into painful stress positions for prolonged periods, including hoisting their arms behind their backs with cables or rope, to punish and intimidate critics and opponents and elicit confessions.”


The report alleged that Palestinian security forces “use solitary confinement and beatings, including whipping their feet, and force detainees into painful stress positions for prolonged periods, including hoisting their arms behind their backs with cables or rope, to punish and intimidate critics and opponents and elicit confessions.”

“Systematic abuse by the PA and Hamas forms a critical part of the repression of the Palestinian people."

The group listed Palestinians who it said had been arbitrarily arrested in the aftermath of [an outspoken critic of the Palestinian Authority Nizar] Banat's death.

HRW said security forces are not held to account for the alleged torture and that given their systematic nature over many years, the practice could amount to crimes against humanity.


This is the first time that I see a report from AP that addresses routine human rights abuses of Palestinians by Palestinians.
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