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Are Garland and the DOJ Ready for Those Trump Referrals?

Merrick Garland and Donald Trump

Based on their past success of proving sedition and knocking Trump back on his heels, we can expect some history-making legal fireworks in 2023.



With the referral of former President Donald Trump to the Department of Justice on at least four criminal charges, the crescendo was reached for the much-heralded House Select Committee on January 6 opus. This was a first in the long history of the U.S. Congress that a criminal referral for a former or current U.S. president was sent to the DOJ.

The final hearing of the committee was like the last stanza of a well-tuned symphony, where all the movements came together for one grand finale. As the members spoke, you could hear the cymbals crash, the drumbeats racing, and a crowd rising to its feat.

No orchestra or performance could match the sheer brilliance of the January 6 committee's investigation. It was remarkable what those nine members did over the last 18 months. Some of the testimony they were able to garner was breathtaking, frightening, and downright repugnant. The bottom-line lesson is that our democracy was saved by a few individuals, a few courts, and a good deal of luck.

We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the committee and to its staff, who I am sure worked arduously long hours to weave together over a million data points of evidence based on over 1,000 witness interviews. The task was herculean. With the overwhelming amount of evidence, the committee was able to shape it into one simple thread of obstruction of official proceedings, defrauding the United States, making false statements, and aiding an insurrection. The committee's work will be studied for generations to come.

Now the sequel of sorts is in the hands of the Justice Department, which will be hard-pressed to match the investigative precision of the committee's work; however, working in the favor of the Justice Department is the full weight of U.S. law enforcement, which, we hope, will have a better shot of getting witnesses to comply with subpoenas. Further, Attorney General Merrick Garland is proving that he knows what he's doing, and that has already proved to be a danger to Donald Trump, the criminal in chief.

The Justice Department gets a lot of flak about many things. It has been accused of dragging its feet on Trump and January 6 and giving Trump too much slack with his hoarding of the Mar-a-Lago top secret documents, and Garland has been called too soft and too gentle.

Don't believe any of it!

Late last month, the department and the attorney general scored a huge win with the guilty verdicts of seditious conspiracy to stop the peaceful transfer of power for Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and his number 1 accomplice, Kelly Meggs. Just as impressive were the guilty verdicts for Rhodes, Meggs, and three other Oath Keepers on charges of obstructing an official proceeding. The sedition and obstruction verdicts were whoppers!

A seditious conspiracy trial involving a group of Proud Boys is in the jury selection process now, and a trail involving more Oath Keepers is set for the new year.

Moreover, Garland and the department were able to do away with the criminal decisions of a lone rogue Florida judge, a Trump appointee who bent over backwards to make sure this former president was above the law. Her decisions were smacked down like spiked volleyballs, and that's because Garland handled the response in exactly the right way.

Why are those court victories important? First, it shows the government has an extremely strong case to show sedition as well as obstruction and insurrection. Second, it does not bode well for the upcoming trials that involve sedition, obstruction, and insurrection -- this means Trump as well as the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys -- since the government apparently presented a locked-down, buttoned-up case that led to a swift guilty verdict from the Rhodes jury.

The fact that Rhodes was attempting to contact Trump while still at the Capitol herding his pack of pathetic Keepers only proves that there's a connection between the insurrectionist president and the malicious Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, and Garland and the Justice Department know lots more than we do about this connection.

When he couldn't get Trump, Rhodes called an intermediary to relay a message to him. All along, the Oath Keepers and people close to Trump scoffed at the idea that the Oath Keepers could pick up the phone and talk to Trump. But there's no doubt the Justice Department can link the likes of those intermediaries -- possibly Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, or Rudy Giuliani -- to Donald Trump. My guess is one of these three has -- or will -- crack.

Or the DOJ's star witness, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, will provide testimony about how all these individuals were linked under the purview of Trump. The House January 6 committee at first heard from Meadows, who turned over text messages and other evidence. Then he declined its subpeona. My guess is Meadows, a former House member, got a deal with the DOJ to cooperate, and his testimony is likely the most consquential of anyone who had a hand in January 6. And Meadows knows for sure who was pulling the strings for the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, and whether or not they had access to Trump.

Here's something else to noodle on. If Kayne West, or whatever he calls himself, can bring the ferocious anti-Semite Nick Fuentes directly to Trump's dinner table, do you really believe for a minute that the Oath Keepers couldn't pick up the phone and talk to Trump? Trump was always making unsecure calls from his cell phone, and he'd talk to anyone who kissed his wide ass. As the House committee stated, the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys were the boots on the ground, doing the dirty work of the president, and Trump's militia shouldn't be the only ones who go to jail.

Trump gave us a warning that he was in cahoots with the militia when he advised the Proud Boys (the brethren of the Oath Keepers) to stand by and stand back while debating Joe Biden. So they did exactly what he told them to do, and when he said on the National Mall on the morning of January 6 to go to the Capitol, he knew exactly what he was inciting. Sedition. An insurrection, because as the January 6 committee proved and as the Justice Department will no doubt charge, Trump was engineering the whole catastrophe. Along with that lackey of a pettifogger attorney and longtime homophobe John Eastman (he's up to his eyeballs in charges, just wait and see).

Cassidy Hutchinson in her testimony told the January 6 House committee that Trump knew that the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and these militia groups were trying to get on the Mall with weapons, and they couldn't get past the metal detectors. He told the Secret Service to let them in, to get rid of the "mags" so that "his people" could enter the rally area.

His people? That's right. They were his anointed people who were going to stop the peaceful transfer of power. Thank God they failed and thank God that we have a Justice Department that knows exactly how to prosecute them for their attempt.

What's pathetic is that there's no way in hell Trump didn't know who Stewart Rhodes was. Trump has said all along he didn't know who Rhodes was, didn't know who David Duke was, didn't know who Fuentes was. You'd have to be dumber than an Oath Keeper or a Proud Boy or John Eastman to believe him. The fact that the Oath Keepers were convicted of obstruction means the Justice Department and Garland know the root cause of the instigator of this attempt at tyranny, and that is Donald Trump.

And that is exactly what the January 6 committee said in its conclusion that Trump was the "central cause" of the Capitol riot, and there's evidence to support all of the charges.

We will soon find out how much they know, because the department is clearly on a path to show that sedition was the name of the game not only for Trump, but for Bannon, Stone, Giuliani -- and don't forget the bloviating Pillow Guy, and all the way down to Meggs. As if shooting down ducks at an arcade, Garland and newly appointed Special Counsel Jack Smith and his team are on their way to bringing the rest of these seditious termites to trial and getting convictions.

That means, starting after the holidays, the legal fireworks -- the likes of which this country has never seen before -- will begin to explode. Monday's referrals are a harbinger that more locked-down, tightened-up, and solid indictments are on their way, and more convictions are to come.

John Casey is editor at large for The Advocate.

Views expressed in The Advocate's opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.

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