Overview:

A new memo from Attorney General Merrick Garland suggests Trump may be safe from investigation prior to the midterms, and potentially beyond

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A new memo from US Attorney General Merrick Garland to officials at the Department of Justice suggests that President Trump is unlikely to be indicted before the midterm elections in November.

Throughout the January 6th committee’s hearings on Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, political and legal commentators have suggested that the former President could face legal ramifications for his statements and actions. Now it seems that any legal consequences are off the table for former President Trump, at least until the midterm elections are over. And if Trump officially announces a presidential run for 2024, as he is all but certain to do, that grace period may extend even further. This memo gives him even further incentive to declare his candidacy early.

Garland’s memo echoes policy that was introduced by the former attorney general during the Trump administration, William Burr. Burr’s policy required investigators at the Department of Justice to obtain written approval from the attorney general before opening any investigation into “politically sensitive individuals and entities” on the cusp of elections. The memo from Garland was titled “Election Year Sensitivities” and was first revealed by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on her show earlier this week. 

While many have taken Garland’s stance as an excuse for inaction against the former President, some have come to Garland’s defense. Former Alabama Democratic Senator Doug Jones said the memo was “a re-affirmation of what has been Justice Department policy for a long, long time.”

It should be noted that the Garland memo does not preclude investigation but requires more consultation before moving forward in a case involving major political figures. Though most of the condemnation of the Garland memo is currently coming from the left, many Democratic commentators blamed FBI Director James Comey’s 11th-hour announcement of an investigation into Hillary Clinton for her narrow loss to Trump in 2016.

Marcus Johnson

Marcus Johnson is a political commentator and a political science Ph.D. candidate at American University. His primary research focus is the impact of political institutions on the racial wealth gap.