Is the Georgia Indictment ‘Politically Motivated’? Huh, Yeah

(Kent D. Johnson/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, Pool)

In response to the indictment, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan said, “It’s a sad day for America…God bless President Trump.” Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs said, “We have now reached a war phase,” and more ominously added, “Eye for an eye.”

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Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy tweeted: “Today is indeed a dark day for the United States of America.” Congressmembers vowed to make the prosecutor “show cause” in effect to demonstrate what, if any, legal basis the state indictment was based and to demonstrate how it wasn’t a political hit-job. A letter to the prosecutor followed demanding answers.

The state court matter mentioned above isn’t the Fulton County indictment; it’s the matter brought by Manhattan’s District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Fulton County DA Fani Willis received a similar demand or “show cause” letter. Undoubtedly Willis's office will respond in a similar manner to the Manhattan DA, invoking federalism and state power to adjudicate state matters. 

Bragg’s office wrote, in part

“The Constitution limits Congress's powers to those specifically enumerated, and the 10th Amendment ensures that any unenumerated powers are reserved to the States. New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144, 155-56 (1992). It is therefore generally understood that a Congressional committee may not "inquire into matters which are … reserved to the States."

Although the New York indictment is a farcical and frankly an absurd drift down Kangaroo Court Lane, whoever drafted the letter has a point. It is, for the most part, a state court matter, even with the dead-end reference to a federal statute. In a perfect world, a state court judge would toss the indictment before trial. But we don’t live in a perfect world. Bragg’s indictment isn’t based on sound legal theories, and it is clearly political, but is it the job of Congress to investigate? As an attorney, I don’t think so. 

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The Georgia indictment isn’t an improvement on New York’s legal credibility, but it does touch on federal jurisdiction. Plus, it's fraught with fluff and innuendo. Further, Fani Willis has spent an equal amount of time and energy trolling for campaign money and posing for cameras. That doesn't help her case. Her foreperson is a caricature who went to the press and embarrassed herself and her State. But again, in a perfect world, that would have tanked the case. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a divided partisan nation where political DAs make partisan powerplays.

The problem for Trump is, much like the “you can indict a ham sandwich” meme, one can convict a ham sandwich, depending on the venue. The only venue where Trump stands a chance of a fair trial is Florida. 

The [new] letter from the House Judiciary Committee is a better attack on the latest indictment. It points specifically to the unprecedented attack on free speech and the use of public officials who use public platforms to object to election results no matter the results. When Trump won the 2016 presidential election, there were dozens, if not hundreds, of elected officials who voiced their claims that the 2016 was illegitimate and stolen. No one prosecuted them. Why? Because it was standard fair. Make outlandish claims, and then sit down. We can ignore the outlandish because we know it is outlandish. This, frankly, isn't rocket science. 

The letter from Congress has laid out their case:

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In explaining their rationale for federal oversight of the Georgia-based indictments, House Republicans referenced Willis’ alleged attempt to “use state criminal law to regulate the conduct of federal officers acting in their official capacities,” such as that of Trump and Meadows. The letter additionally raised questions about the involvement of Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith and whether Willis’ office “coordinated” with Smith “during the course of [her] investigation.”

“News outlets have reported that your office and Mr. Smith ‘interviewed many of the same witnesses and reviewed much of the same evidence’ in reaching your decision to indict President Trump,” the letter reads. “The House Committee on the Judiciary (Committee) thus may investigate whether federal law enforcement agencies or officials were involved in your investigation or indictment.”

The Georgia case is related to federal law and does impact potential federal jurisdiction. Unlike the New York indictment, the Fulton County indictment does touch on federal jurisdiction. 

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