What if, instead of slowly building evidence through careful investigation culminating in an indictment, the Department of Justice just told a mob boss the names and addresses of everyone wearing a wire and blasted out its working theory of the case before looking at the evidence? It’s an interesting thought experiment if you’re an absolute moron.
In entirely related news, Jonathan Turley thinks the Justice Department should publicly post its whole case before getting an indictment.
Turley took to The Hill, a publication basically no-code 4Chan at this point, to complain that Merrick Garland must “earn” back the public trust he lost when he didn’t Keystone Kop a sensitive investigation about national security secrets by publishing the nuclear codes on the back of every milk carton for a week. And the only way Garland can overcome the legitimacy crisis facing the Department of Justice in Turley’s addled mind is by playing fast and loose with affidavit redactions:
This coming week, Garland has another opportunity to show leadership and reassure the public by ordering substantive disclosures in the proposed redacted affidavit justifying the raid. If not, this will be the fifth missed opportunity to demonstrate that the DOJ deserves the public’s trust.
As a reminder, the DOJ hoped to keep all of this quiet, like it does in the thousands of other searches the FBI conducts upon unsuspecting people at the crack of dawn. But Donald Trump blabbed about it to the world and demanded to know what prompted the search, so the DOJ moved to unseal the warrant. But since the warrant only told the world, “holy hell, they think Donald Trump was illegally hoarding national security secrets” and not “this is the specific Secret Service agent Trump will dox to some violent white supremacist group,” Trump wants to see the underlying affidavit justifying the search warrant to get that answer. The media would also like to see more of this affidavit so they can report juicy stuff. At the last hearing, the judge determined that at least some of the affidavit bears enough public interest to justify unsealing portions and asked the DOJ to propose a “director’s cut” of the affidavit that would satisfy that public interest without prejudicing the suspect.
Ultimately, the DOJ is going to come back with a heavily redacted document that spells out all the efforts taken before the search to get the documents back. The media will rejoice in detailed accounts of what Trump and his lawyers said throughout the investigation, but this is all stuff Trump already knows. The government isn’t going to turn over what Trump’s after until they’ve got an indictment in hand for the same reasons the FBI on The Sopranos don’t conclude searches with, “we’re going to be looking into this… in the meantime, Puss Bonpensiero sent us.” The situations may be different, but the logic is the same: if the Department of Justice just blasted out the affidavits behind every warrant in an ongoing investigation willy-nilly they’d never get anywhere.
Which is obvious, but somehow he’s got legal academia’s dumb-namic duo vomiting this theory all over the media (see also “People Have a ‘Right to Know’ What Was in Trump Affidavit: Alan Dershowitz.“).
According to an NBC News survey published Sunday that polled 1,000 people, 57% of registered voters said the probes into alleged wrongdoing by Trump should continue, while 40% say they should end.
Majority rule shouldn’t determine who gets prosecuted in this country, but majority rule is entirely dispositive if you’re bleating at the sun that Merrick Garland has to “earn” public trust.
And that’s the thing: the public does trust Merrick Garland on this. The public does trust the Department of Justice on this. And the public does trust the grand jury process. All without creating a maze of workarounds to create one system of justice for Donald Trump and one for everyone else. No matter how hard Turls tries.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.