Rachel Maddow is getting impatient with the U.S. Justice Department.
The MSNBC anchor’s main concern on her Wednesday night show was why federal prosecutors haven’t gone ahead and tried to prosecute Trump for any of the litany of alleged felonies he’s accused of (or accused of directing an associate to do for him) now that he’s no longer a sitting president.
During a segment she called “democracy stress test,” Maddow also wondered what the point of even collecting evidence against former president Trump was, if no one in the Justice Department was going to do anything with it.
Maddow also recalled that former special counsel Robert Mueller said it wouldn’t have been possible for the Justice Department to indict Trump while he was president — which explains why even though Trump was impeached twice, he couldn’t have been removed from office on felony charges by the government — but Trump is now out of office, which technically makes a prosecution fair game.
“You could charge the president with obstruction of justice after he left office? Yes, yes, that’s the whole point. And now he’s left office,” Maddow noted.
There hasn’t been a single president in U.S. history prosecuted by the Justice Department after leaving office. The indictment rule exists mainly to safeguard against political opponents using the Department to attack each other, but in certain circumstances — say, when accusations against a former president include obstructing justice, election interference, extortion of officers of the U.S. government and of course, refusal to testify — there could theoretically be a worthy case.
“The main witness for the 10-plus instances of alleged obstruction of justice in that report, that witness has just testified to Congress confirming the allegations at their core. Now, the former president could be prosecuted for those alleged instances of obstruction of justice. Any takers?” Maddow asked. “Think there’s any appetite for that in the Justice Department under Merrick Garland, during the Biden administration?”
Maddow also pointed to comments by New York Democratic Representative and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, who said McGahn’s statements “could expose both Trump and McGahn to criminal liability.”
Maddow, with all respect to Nadler, didn’t buy that take for a second.
“Could it though, really? Could Trump really be exposed to criminal liability by any of his actions?” Maddow questioned. “Really? Only if there was a prosecutor who would be willing to prosecute him for these alleged crimes.”
One thing that could nudge this process along, Maddow said, would be for the House Judiciary Committee and Nadler to issue a referral to the Justice Department asking what they were doing about the allegations, which would at least “require a response” from the Department.
“Under the Trump administration the Justice Department never actually substantively considered the evidence against Trump and whether or not he should be charged,” Maddow said. “The Justice Department never looked at it. There’s no reason why they couldn’t look at it now. He is only a former president now so he’s not protected by any Justice Department policy that would grant him immunity. So again. Any takers? Is this all just going to slide? What was this evidence collected for, anyway?” she questioned.
Check out the full video at the top of the page.