The big time former federal prosecutors are only just now beginning to catch up to what our guest on today's BradCast has been saying all along: Merrick Garland's Department of Justice is, in fact, on the job and Donald Trump is, in fact, in their sights. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
At The Atlantic today, Ronald Reagan's former Deputy Solicitor General and George H.W. Bush's Deputy Attorney General, Donald Ayer, along with former Asst. Attorney General for the Civil Division at DoJ, Stuart M. Gerson, and former federal prosecutor and Chief Asst. City Attorney in San Francisco, Dennis Aftergut, declared that, after seven public hearings by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection and Trump's multiple attempts to steal the election, "The evidence is now overwhelming that Donald Trump was the driving force behind a massive criminal conspiracy to interfere with the official January 6 congressional proceeding and to defraud the United States of a fair election outcome."
The three prosecutors, two of whom served in Republican Administrations, observe that "This was Trump's project all along" and there is now more than enough evidence to prosecute the disgraced former President. "The damage to America’s future that would be inflicted by giving him a pass far outweighs the risks of prosecuting him," they write, "And the tradition of not prosecuting a former president must yield to the manifest need to protect our constitutional form of government and to assure that the violent effort to overthrow it is never repeated."
At New York Times earlier this week, Andrew Weissman, a long time federal prosecutor of high profile criminal conspiracies and a senior prosecutor on the Special Counsel team that investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election, argues that Garland's "bottom up" investigation --- working the way up the food chain from the hundreds of dupes on the ground on January 6, through the rightwing extremist militia group participants like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, now facing seditious conspiracy charges, to those in Trump's inner-circle --- is too slow, difficult and ultimately too narrow. He calls instead for a "hub and spoke conspiracy" probe, now that it's clear Trump was at the "hub" of multiple criminal "spokes" in his attempts to steal the 2020 election. January 6 was just one such "spoke".
Our guest today, however, who has perhaps been following every single indictment, federal court filing, and shred of available evidence as close or closer than anyone on the planet, has long been arguing that Garland's DoJ has been doing all of the above, and for some time --- whether the big time former federal prosecutors have finally gotten around to noticing or not.
MARCY WHEELER, the prolific independent national security journalist from Emptywheel.net, is a long time friend who has been joining us on the show for many months now, often to counter the many critics of Garland. She has long argued the DoJ is, in fact, on the case, and has a number of criticisms of Weissman's much-cited critique of the Department's probe.
She argues DoJ has long been carrying out a very broad investigation of the sort that Weissman is now calling for. In addition to the hundreds of grunts on the ground and dozens of seditious conspirators from the militia groups already charged, the Department has also been deliberately collecting a wide swath of critical evidence from members of Trump's inner-circle --- from Rudy Giuliani to Roger Stone to Michael Flynn to Sidney Powell to John Eastman to Mark Meadows and beyond.
Today's conversation, as usual with Wheeler, is complex and far-reaching. We discuss where folks like Weissman have been missing the big picture, and we discuss what she has learned from the Select Committee's hearings and where they still have information to learn themselves.
But the bottom line is this: Wheeler believes "there is plenty of evidence to prove that Donald J. Trump conspired and, himself, did obstruct the vote certification on January 6th," but that the DoJ "will not charge it...until they get a couple of more things in place." Those things, namely, are "four people," one of whom, she notes, the Trump camp itself believes "is about to go to prison."
Tune in to find out who those people are, and when Wheeler believes charges for Trump are likely to come down --- from someone who has been far ahead of the curve on all of this for the past year and a half or so. (Oh, and yes, she tells us that Steve Bannon, whose trial on criminal Contempt of Congress charges begins next week, is indeed in trouble too. "Probably more trouble than he knows.")
Update 7/21/2022: Our friend "Spocko" was so impressed by Marcy's commentary in this episode that he created a full text transcript of my interview with her. He says he used AI to do it, so I can't vouch for the accuracy of it, but thought it might be helpful to some if I posted that link to it here for archival and posterity purposes.
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)