Any Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecution of former President Donald Trump for his responsibility in provoking the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol will be viewed by half the population as politically motivated, Republican congressmen are warning, The Hill reported on Monday.
Experts say the evidence assembled by House select committee investigators into the Jan. 6 attack would provide a strong impetus for prosecutors to act.
Earlier this month in a court filing, the committee accused Trump of engaging in a criminal conspiracy to overturn the election, CNN reported.
But Republicans said that a federal prosecution of the former president would only boost Trump within the GOP, with Indiana Republican Sen. Mike Braun telling The Hill that "at least half the country would say it’s all politically motivated" as a way for Democrats to distract from President Joe Biden’s low approval ratings.
North Carolina GOP Sen. Thom Tillis pointed to the partisan fighting over the formation of the January 6 committee, when Speaker Nancy Pelosi blocked House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's GOP choices to serve on the panel.
Instead, she picked Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, two outspoken Republican critics of Trump's election fraud claims, to be on the panel of the Democrat-led probe.
"I don't mind looking into the events, but I think that Speaker Pelosi did not do the process justice by the way the members were ultimately seated," Tillis said. "It's going to be perceived as political."
Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist, said a prosecution "will only make Trump stronger with the GOP primary voters," stating that "if your goal is to make sure Donald Trump is the nominee in 2024 for the Republicans, then by all means proceed with this. You're just going to make him stronger."
But many Democrats say Attorney General Merrick Garland has over-corrected in his attempt to restore norms at the DOJ after four years of political wars during Trump's presidency, and that caution could lead to a lack of accountability for the former president, CNN reported.
"There is a difference between protecting DOJ political independence and being too scared to do anything that might be perceived as political, even if it is the right and necessary thing to do," Elie Honig, a CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor said.
Many Democrats had also hoped the DOJ would act on its own, but so far there is no clear indication that Garland will formally seek to investigate Trump for his role in inciting the attack.
But some Democrats have said that Garland needs to win any case he brings against Trump, because they are concerned the former president would declare an acquittal as complete vindication, much like he did after former special counsel Robert Mueller declined to bring charges after probing allegations of collusion between Russian officials and the Trump campaign in 2016.
Republicans also warn that any federal prosecution of Trump would likely be answered by congressional investigations of Biden and his son Hunter if Republicans take over the House and possibly the Senate in the 2022 midterm elections.
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