Merrick Garland has a strong case to bring against Donald Trump, should he choose to do so

John Fetterman

You vote for everything, you expect your politicians to be accessible. We like people from our own regions. We’re suspicious of people from other regions. We don’t like outsiders. . . . Pennsylvania doesn’t have a positive personal identity, but we definitely have a negative one, and that’s where Dr. [Mehmet] Oz is provoking some sort of weird immune response.[11]

I think because we’re located between New York and Washington, it builds up a little bit of an inferiority complex, which breeds parochialism. We don’t like to be used, no matter who it is. We wouldn’t like to be used by Hillary [Clinton] or Bobby [Kennedy] or Mehmet Oz.[12]

If you’re in a place with a lot of cosmopolitan transplants, then being a cosmopolitan transplant doesn’t matter so much. That’s not this state.[13]

More yard signs are starting to appear for Doug Mastriano and Mehmet Oz in their respective statewide electoral races around southwestern Pennsylvania. But not as many as for Donald Trump, who isn’t even formally on the ballot. I am unsure as to the significance of that discrepancy, but having lived in California the vast majority of my life, and moved to Pittsburgh a little more than three years ago, I have to say it does feel like that even if I had the time to begin a social life here, there would be little opportunity for me to do so.

Part of it is interest: Football and drinking to get drunk predominate in social life here and I am interested in neither. But part of it, too, is that most people who live here were born here[14] and there is a certain wall, that locals have, where with nearly all my relatives here six feet under, I am not from here and have no introduction here. How would I even, if I were even so inclined, walk into a local bar? There is a forbidding quality to these places for me simply because I am not from here.

It’s the kind of thing that if I could even say, I live in my grandparents’ house in Dormont or the duplex where I lived for a couple years as a kid in Mt. Lebanon, it would help to establish a connection to this place. I can’t, and have little prospect of being able to do so. That’s the barrier that Dr. Oz still faces even as it seems he has a stronger connection to Pennsylvania[15] than I do..

Julia Terruso, “Fetterman keeps attacking Oz for being from New Jersey. That’s resonating in parochial Pa.,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 14, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/mehmet-oz-pennsylvania-parochialism-senate-fetterman-20220814.html


Gilead

Donald Trump

Coup attempt

In a previous blog post, I expressed doubt that, due to uncertainties as to his state of mind, Donald Trump could be shown beyond a reasonable doubt to have committed seditious conspiracy for his role in the January 6 coup attempt.[16] Renato Mariotti argues that that defense would be unlikely to succeed against charges flowing from the search of Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago.[17]

[The Department of Justice’s] repeated requests and demands to [Donald] Trump and his team served the same purpose [of demonstrating willful conduct]. It will be difficult for Trump to claim that he did not realize that the records he kept were national security secrets that rightfully belonged to the government, given that the government repeatedly told him so and demanded their return. Moreover, Trump was present when the DOJ visited Mar-a-Lago to meet with his lawyers and demand the records.[18]

It also appears that Trump would not be able to evade a conviction by claiming he had declassified all documents at Mar-a-Lago and that “one of Trump’s lawyers signed a written statement falsely asserting that ‘all material marked as classified’ had been returned to the government” could be the basis of a charge of obstruction of justice.[19]

Mariotti thinks the Department of Justice has a strong case to bring against Trump should it choose to do so. That doesn’t mean that it will and Mariotti writes that he “would not be surprised if DOJ refuses to pursue charges, regardless of their strength, in the absence of a ‘plus factor’ like obstruction.” Trump would apparently need to waive attorney-client privilege to blame the lawyer for that misrepresentation and the lawyer in question would thus be accepting personal liability for it. Mariotti seems to think that’s a stretch.[20] That “plus factor” would thus seem to be present.

The question, as it has been from the beginning, remains whether Merrick Garland has the cajones.

Jonathan Capehart, “Liz Cheney is the Obi-Wan to Trump’s Darth Vader,” Washington Post, August 8, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/08/08/liz-cheney-obi-wan-kenobi-trump-darth-vader/

Eric Tucker and Michael Balsamo, “Trump says FBI conducting search of Mar-a-Lago estate,” Associated Press, August 8, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-mar-a-lago-government-and-politics-9e8d683afe87389407950af7ccfdbdd6

Scott R. Anderson et al., “What We Do and Don’t Know About the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago Search,” Lawfare, August 9, 2022, https://www.lawfareblog.com/what-we-do-and-dont-know-about-fbis-mar-lago-search

Devlin Barrett et al., “Mar-a-Lago search appears focused on whether Trump, aides withheld items,” Washington Post, August 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/09/trump-fbi-search-mar-a-lago/

Julia Ioffe, “Defund… the F.B.I.?” Puck News, August 9, 2022, https://puck.news/defund-the-f-b-i/

Perry Stein, “Garland vowed to depoliticize Justice. Then the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago,” Washington Post, August 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/09/garland-trump-raid-politics/

Jan Murphy and Charles Thompson, “FBI delivers subpoenas to several Pa. Republican lawmakers: sources say,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, August 10, 2022, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2022/08/fbi-delivers-subpoenas-to-several-pa-republican-lawmakers-sources-say.html

Tina Nguyen, “‘The DeSantasy Is Over,’” Puck News, August 10, 2022, https://puck.news/the-desantasy-is-over/

Steve Peoples, “GOP rallies around Trump following FBI search of his estate,” Associated Press, August 10, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/gop-rallies-around-donald-trump-a0f20a219b1090fd02f529acf744f246

Amber Phillips, “What could the Mar-a-Lago search mean for Trump legally?” Washington Post, August 10, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/02/07/what-is-presidential-records-act-how-did-trump-violate-it/

Devlin Barrett et al., “FBI searched Trump’s home to look for nuclear documents and other items, sources say,” Washington Post, August 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/11/garland-trump-mar-a-lago/

Erik Larson, “Trump’s ‘Planted Evidence’ Claim Unlikely to Stand Up In Court,” Bloomberg, August 11, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-08-11/trump-s-planted-evidence-claim-unlikely-to-stand-up-in-court

Erin McCarthy, “Who is Rep. Scott Perry, the Trump ally from Pa. whose phone was seized by the FBI?” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 11, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/pennsylvania/scott-perry-jan-6-trump-fbi-raid-20220811.html

Tara Palmeri, “The Trump Informant Guessing Game: Knives Are Out!” Puck News, August 11, 2022, https://puck.news/the-trump-informant-guessing-game-knives-are-out/

Steve Peoples, “Trump’s bond with GOP deepens after primary wins, FBI search,” Associated Press, August 11, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/2022-midterm-elections-wisconsin-donald-trump-marjorie-taylor-greene-b5c2ee83bb655c43e1deb9c46f2a6020

Andrew Solender, “Political threats spiral,” Axios, August 11, 2022, https://www.axios.com/2022/08/12/political-threats-spiral

Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent, “Merrick Garland’s surprise announcement calls the Trump-GOP bluff,” Washington Post, August 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/08/11/garland-announcement-trump-fbi-bluff/

Devlin Barrett and Josh Dawsey, “Agents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago seized 11 sets of classified documents, court filing shows,” Washington Post, August 12, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/12/trump-warrant-release/

Alex Leary, Aruna Viswanatha, and Sadie Gurman, “FBI Recovered Eleven Sets of Classified Documents in Trump Search, Inventory Shows,” Washington Post, August 12, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/fbi-recovered-eleven-sets-of-classified-documents-in-trump-search-inventory-shows-11660324501

Lisa Rein, “Under fire, Homeland Security watchdog delays probe — with GOP help,” Washington Post, August 12, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/08/12/joseph-cuffari-homeland-security-watchdog-investigation/

Betsy Woodruff Swan, Kyle Cheney, and Nicholas Wu, “FBI search warrant shows Trump under investigation for potential obstruction of justice, Espionage Act violations,” Politico, August 12, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/08/12/search-warrant-shows-trump-under-investigation-for-potential-obstruction-of-justice-espionage-act-violations-00051507

Eric Tucker and Michael Balsamo, “Trump calls for ‘immediate’ release of Mar-a-Lago warrant,” Associated Press, August 12, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-search-unsealing-the-warrant-5e00a3e6728cd77daa0d2180d078fcb6

Clyde Hughes, “Rep. Greene files articles of impeachment against Attorney General Garland,” United Press International, August 13, 2022, https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2022/08/13/-Marjorie-Taylor-Greene-articles-impeachment-Merrick-Garland-Attorney-General/4231660394406/

Arwa Mahdawi, “The Mar-a-Lago search prompts a big question: who snitched?” Guardian, August 13, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/aug/13/mar-a-lago-search-ivanka-trump-week-in-patriarchy

Renato Mariotti, “Espionage Isn’t the Strongest Case Against Trump. It’s Simpler Than That,” Politico, August 14, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/08/14/trump-classified-documents-doj-opinion-00051584


  1. [11]Ben Forstate, quoted in Julia Terruso, “Fetterman keeps attacking Oz for being from New Jersey. That’s resonating in parochial Pa.,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 14, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/mehmet-oz-pennsylvania-parochialism-senate-fetterman-20220814.html
  2. [12]Ed Rendell, quoted in Julia Terruso, “Fetterman keeps attacking Oz for being from New Jersey. That’s resonating in parochial Pa.,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 14, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/mehmet-oz-pennsylvania-parochialism-senate-fetterman-20220814.html
  3. [13]Robin Kolodny, quoted in Julia Terruso, “Fetterman keeps attacking Oz for being from New Jersey. That’s resonating in parochial Pa.,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 14, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/mehmet-oz-pennsylvania-parochialism-senate-fetterman-20220814.html
  4. [14]Julia Terruso, “Fetterman keeps attacking Oz for being from New Jersey. That’s resonating in parochial Pa.,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 14, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/mehmet-oz-pennsylvania-parochialism-senate-fetterman-20220814.html
  5. [15]Julia Terruso, “Fetterman keeps attacking Oz for being from New Jersey. That’s resonating in parochial Pa.,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 14, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/mehmet-oz-pennsylvania-parochialism-senate-fetterman-20220814.html
  6. [16]David Benfell, “Reasonable and unreasonable doubt in ‘seditious conspiracy,’” Not Housebroken, June 20, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/08/14/trump-classified-documents-doj-opinion-00051584
  7. [17]Renato Mariotti, “Espionage Isn’t the Strongest Case Against Trump. It’s Simpler Than That,” Politico, August 14, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/08/14/trump-classified-documents-doj-opinion-00051584
  8. [18]Renato Mariotti, “Espionage Isn’t the Strongest Case Against Trump. It’s Simpler Than That,” Politico, August 14, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/08/14/trump-classified-documents-doj-opinion-00051584
  9. [19]Renato Mariotti, “Espionage Isn’t the Strongest Case Against Trump. It’s Simpler Than That,” Politico, August 14, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/08/14/trump-classified-documents-doj-opinion-00051584
  10. [20]Renato Mariotti, “Espionage Isn’t the Strongest Case Against Trump. It’s Simpler Than That,” Politico, August 14, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/08/14/trump-classified-documents-doj-opinion-00051584

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