Senate Democrats believe there’s a “good chance” that Attorney General Merrick Garland will prosecute former President Donald Trump over the January 6 Capitol riot, according to a new report from The Hill.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) told the outlet that “clearly what [Trump] did” in the days leading up to January 6 “falls in the ambit of what’s being investigated and perhaps is criminal.”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said it’s up to the Justice Department to decide to charge the former president, but he believes Trump’s actions on and before January 6 likely violate federal law.
“My intuition is that they are” looking carefully at whether Trump broke the law, Kaine told the outlet. “My sense is they’re looking [at] everything in a diligent way, and they haven’t made a decision.”
“I believe there are federal statutes that are very much implicated” by Trump’s efforts to overturn Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, he added.
When asked if Trump violated the law, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said, “I’m not going to say he’s guilty before I see evidence,” but there’s “a lot of evidence that he was complicit.”
An unnamed Democratic senator said many Democratic lawmakers believe Trump violated the law by attempting to halt the certification of the 2020 presidential election. But, the anonymous lawmaker told The Hill that it could be difficult to win a conviction in court.
“If you pull the trigger on this one, you have to make sure that you don’t miss, because this is one if you miss it essentially validates the conduct,” a second unnamed Democratic senator said.
One legal expert told Bloomberg that Trump’s First Amendment rights would make any case against him difficult to prosecute.
“You can’t allow the government to lock up protest leaders whenever the protests produce violence,” said Andrew Koppelman, a constitutional law expert at Northwestern University. “The Trump speech was full of lies, but that’s not a crime. He told them to ‘fight like hell,’ but that’s familiar political language that does not ordinarily produce violence.”
Meanwhile, in Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) recently told the AP that she’s leaning toward requesting to authorize subpoenas to advance her investigation of Trump’s conversation with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R).
A decision whether to bring criminal charges against Trump would likely come within the next six months, Willis said.