In the battle of the dueling Bush attorney general op eds, the New York Times ran an op-ed from Jack Goldsmith, an assistant attorney general in the Bush administration, warning that, “The Prosecution of Trump May Have Terrible Consequences”.
The next day, the Washington Post, which unlike the Times hardly ever runs op-eds that venture outside the party line, ran an op-ed by former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez titled, “No, fellow Republicans, the Justice Department is not biased against us”.
Key to Al’s argument is the magical power of the… grand jury.
“Regardless, once prosecutors believe they may have grounds for an indictment, they cannot unilaterally indict any individual they choose. They must bring their evidence before a grand jury, which is made up of ordinary citizens, who weigh evidence and have the final say as to whether a defendant should be indicted,” Gonzalez argues.
“Let’s set aside the fact that three independent grand juries of Americans — not just three prosecutors — have indicted one Republican politician, Trump, for a variety of crimes,” he points out elsewhere.
A federal prosecutor, as was famously noted, could indict a ham sandwich. Why is that? Because they vote thumbs down 99.9% of the time.
The grand jury process is now so routinized in most state jurisdictions that it has become a pro forma proceeding to deliver an indictment for a prosecutor. It is for this reason that most lawyers say, repeating the famous expression of the former chief judge of the highest New York state court, Sol Wachtler, that prosecutors can get grand juries to “indict a ham sandwich.” According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them.”
That comes from the notorious right-wing source known as… Columbia Law School.
Alberto Gonzalez could have made credible arguments, instead, he chose to condescend, from the beginning with that “My fellow Republicans” title, and to talk up the magical power of a grand jury.
Gonzalez, of all people, ought to know that’s nonsense, not just because of his role as a prosecutor, but because Democrats obsessed by his anti-terror work during the Bush administration, got a Texas grand jury to indict him.
The longtime district attorney in Willacy County, Texas, is not retiring from public office quietly after a defeat at the polls this year. Instead he has issued a flurry of indictments against his local political enemies, and then for good measure filed charges against Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.
Cheney was charged with “engaging in an organized criminal activity” in connection with the 2001 beating death of an inmate by two fellow inmates at one of the privately run federal detention centers in the county, which is on the Mexican border, court officials said.
The indictment also says both Cheney and Gonzales “committed the crime of neglect” because, it contends, illegal immigrants were ill-treated at detention centers.
Those indictments were politicized nonsense. So are the Trump ones. Gonzalez experienced enough politicized prosecutions that he ought to know better.