Midterm elections are less than four months away, and there’s still a lot that is expected to happen in that time, and a lot that may or may not happen. A newly-obtained memo from Attorney General Merrick Garland, shared by Rachel Maddow, hints that one event, in particular, may not be allowed to go forward before November — that event being the hypothetical indictment of Donald Trump on charges related to the 2020 election.
Between now and midterms, the January 6th Committee will have their last scheduled hearing (coming up in two days, although the panel has said there may be additional hearings added, depending on what the continued investigation turns up) and may even complete their investigation and send a criminal referral for Trump to the Department of Justice (though they’ve said that neither the timing nor the criminal referral is certain).
There are also rumblings that Trump may announce his candidacy for 2024 before midterms, though his party reportedly wants him to wait. There’s speculation that he plans to announce as soon as possible to help dodge potential criminal charges, in fact.
However, Maddow’s reading of the newly-surfaced Justice Department memo indicates that charges before midterms are unlikely at best. Watch her analysis below.
NEW: May 25, 2022 Merrick Garland memo to DOJ on "election year sensitivities" doubles down on Barr's policy against investigating candidates without approval. pic.twitter.com/KIQZMB34Qi
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) July 19, 2022
Note that the memo does not explicitly prevent an indictment before the November elections, it only lays out restrictions and requirements for approval. Still, it can be read as suggesting that an indictment in the months before an election would be inherently political in nature.
Of course, once (if) Trump announces another presidential run, he becomes officially a candidate, making an indictment potentially appear even more political — so if there are charges coming, an indictment sooner rather than later might be the most politically cautious choice.
Garland has said that he will not avoid prosecuting anyone based on their political position or the size of their fan base, but has not, at this time, stated how that fits with the contents of this memo.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com