Greg Sargent in his recent WaPo op-ed is absolutely spot -on correct that the reluctance of the Biden DOJ to expose Trump's corruption will not restore any semblance of normalcy. All that will happen is that the next set of political reprobates and degenerates will become even more emboldened to carry out worse travesties, flouting whatever democratic guardrails impede them.. We saw that in the wake of Gerald Ford's reckless, spineless pardon of Nixon after Watergate - done under the pretense of restoring some kind of domestic tranquility and unity. Didn't happen. It merely spawned an equally despicable conspiracy in Reagan's Iran-Contra.
Many don't like this pseudo-moral recalcitrance which is why the Justice Department is under pressure to release a legal memo detailing Attorney General William P. Barr’s “rationale” for not charging Trump, after the special counsel examining the Russia scandal documented that Trump likely committed extensive criminal obstruction of justice.
The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is suing to get the Justice Department memo, and after a federal judge ordered its release, the department indicated it would appeal. To me this appeal is as wrongheaded and obtuse as refusing to act to halt the slow motion insurrection in the guise of the malignant Arizona fake audit. An atrocity which is soon going to go national- destroying what remains of our democracy as it annihilates any belief in the legitimacy of our elections. Biden and his team seem to forget that millions voted for him - probably the difference in his popular vote win - to remove and expose the corruption of the previous administration not to help bury it.
But as Sargent notes, the reluctance to act is understandable given the politicization of every damned thing including Covid -19 itself, shutdowns, masks and vaccines and also what William Barr - Trump's chief toady - did at the DOJ. As Sargent writes:
"Helping conceal Trump’s misdeeds from public view will not restore normalcy. The opposite is true: Lack of transparency will help prevent a restoration of normalcy. That is, it will help prevent a restoration of normalcy we should actually value."
Of primary concern here to the Justice Department is a legal memo detailing Attorney General William P. Barr’s “rationale” for not charging Trump, after the special counsel examining the Russia scandal documented that Trump likely committed extensive criminal obstruction of justice.
Here’s how Justice Department officials justify their reluctance:
Justice officials tell CNN the department's leaders have tried to cast the current administration as restoring normalcy after four years of Trump interfering in the nation's top law enforcement agency.Part of that effort, the officials say, is refraining from using the department to relitigate controversies from the previous administration.
As Sargent notes, this folderol doesn’t wash. It’s true that Trump turned the Justice Department into an arm of his political and personal corruption, trying to wield it against foes, pressuring department officials to protect him, and relying heavily on Barr to spin, deflect and distort to disguise his extensive wrongdoing. But that doesn't mean exposing his level of corruption - and Barr's willing cooperation - amounts to doing the same thing. No way in hell!
As Sargent writes, "it would be a crowning perversity if this fact were then used as justification to prevent the full truth from coming out about those very same misdeeds." Indeed, that would mean the Biden DOJ is guilty of compounding the politically- motivated missteps of the Trump DOJ. A sequence of Justice missteps and miscues designed to perpetuate Trump's lies and corruption while eating away at the viability, authority and integrity of the Biden DOJ.
At root here is the nonsense that we can’t “re-litigate” these “controversies”, not realizing that gives future lawbreakers carte blanche to perpetrate even worse corruption. Hence there must be moral political courage to act in the long term defense of our national interest, not run and hide from potential political blowback. As Greg Sargent puts it:
"Not to revisit those matters means we cannot learn the full extent to which the government under Trump was perverted by his loyalists to facilitate and cover up his corruption."
Indeed, and the legal memo on obstruction could very well reveal that the Justice Department developed an obviously fraudulent legal analysis to justify not charging Trump. More broadly, as former Alabama prosecutor Joyce White Vance details, Trump’s level of presidential interference in the machinery of justice undermines the rule of law in a very profound way. Concealing one of its most heinous episodes is unthinkable.
Our nation, our democracy, now stands at the precipice of being forever destroyed - to be replaced by a minority government autocracy. The range of the attacks is breathtaking - from the fraudulent audit in Arizona (now ready to infect other states), to the insanity of Trumpy traitor Michael Flynn endorsing a Myanmar-style coup at a recent rally. Meanwhile, the powers that can call a halt to this madness are asleep at the wheel. Somehow hoping - maybe even praying - that inaction will restore normality and faith in government. Forgetting the old maxim (from John Stuart Mill) : "Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing."