No former president has ever been charged with a crime after leaving office, not even President Richard Nixon of Watergate notoriety. But if Biden succeeds in obtaining the presidency, Trump will lose legal protections after Jan. 20, and the new administration will be under immense pressure to follow up on congressional prosecutions rather than avoid the political risks that could come with such an unprecedented move.
Considering the depth of Trump hatred that fueled the Democratic Party campaign it seems all but certain that they will want to see him crippled for any future political plans.
Biden has expressed doubts about the prospect of prosecuting Trump, saying it would be a “very unusual thing and probably not very … good for democracy” but that he would ultimately leave the decision up to the DOJ.
With the looming questions about the liberal politicization of the DOJ and the vocal anti-trump rhetoric from current and past employees that yet to be addressed, this is not good news for the President.
When Biden was vice president, the Obama administration investigated its predecessor’s use of torture during the interrogation of suspected terrorists but ultimately declined to prosecute any officials for their role in the “enhanced interrogation” program. Former President Obama had criticized the techniques but insisted that he intended to “look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”
But Biden’s actual power to “look forward” is not as convincing at Obama’s. Will the more intolerant left actually care what Biden wants?
Kirsti Parker, who spent most of her 20 year career as a civil rights prosecutor at the State Department, joined more than a thousand other former DOJ officials in signing an open letter in 2018 saying the Mueller report described conduct by Trump that would typically “result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.”
“It’s an important needle to thread, making sure that the principle that no one is above the law is observed, while at the same time observing the principle that the department should never appear to be doing justice in a politicized way,” she added.
“That is hard on a whole host of levels because the incoming administration has pledged to rebuild and reanimate the democratic institutions that President Trump has ground down. And that presents you with a particular conundrum when it comes to actually prosecuting the outgoing president, because you have to be very careful in the way that you do it,” Parker said.