Merrick Garland may have two paths to filing charges against Trump: report
Donald Trump, Merrick Garland (Trump photo by Paul Richards for AFP, Garland photo by Brendan Smialowski for AFP)

According to a report from the New York Times, Attorney General Merrick Garland may soon find himself facing an unprecedented historical first: charging a former president not once, but possibly twice, with two separate criminal indictments unrelated to each other.

At issue is whether the cautious Garland will indict Donald Trump over his theft of top secret documents that he spirited away to his Mar-a-Lago home -- and the accompanying obstruction of federal authorities who sought to retrieve them -- and a criminal referral coming from the House select committee investigating the former president's part in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

As the Times' Katie Benner wrote, the search that turned up boxes containing highly sensitive documents at the luxury Florida resort that should never have left Washington D.C., appears to be the frontrunner for criminal charges, but Garland will also have to consider what the House committee will eventually hand his DOJ.

"Attorney General Merrick B. Garland now faces the prospect of having to decide whether to file criminal charges against a former president and likely 2024 Republican candidate, a step without any historical parallel," she wrote. "Remarkably, he may have to make this choice twice, depending on what evidence his investigators find in their separate, broad inquiry into Mr. Trump’s efforts to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election and his involvement with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol."

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Writing, "It is still unclear how either case will play out," she continued, "prosecutors working on the investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of classified information are nowhere near making a recommendation to Mr. Garland, according to people with knowledge of the inquiry. Court filings describe the work as continuing, with the possibility of more witness interviews and other investigative steps to come."

"If Mr. Garland chooses to move forward with charges, it will be a historic moment for the presidency, a former leader of the United States accused of committing a crime and possibly forced to defend himself before a jury of his fellow citizens," the Times report states, with Benner writing that Garland and his investigators are highly aware that any case they bring to bear will have to be bulletproof and sure to lead to a conviction.

The report adds that, in the case of Garland, "no matter of judiciousness can change the fact that he is operating within an America as politically divided as it has been in decades."

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