Legal trouble is looming over former President Donald Trump following the explosive appointment of a special counsel to weigh criminal charges against him Friday, according to a slew of legal experts.
Experts think the 2024 contender is in trouble after Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the appointment of war crimes prosecutors Jack Smith to determine if criminal charges should be levied against Trump for his actions pertaining to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot or document hoarding at Mar-a-Lago. Trump has repeatedly denied wrongdoing on both fronts and railed against the Justice Department, vowing he won’t “partake in it” and lambasting the special counsel appointment as “so unfair.”
“Special Counsel appointment for J6 and Docs cases now makes it inevitable that Trump will be indicted in 2023. But also Jeff Clark, John Eastman, Scott Perry, Christina Bobb, Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani & others. It also makes it more likely Desantis will run,” Ron Filipkowski, an ex-Republican lawyer and fervent Trump critic, boldly predicted.
Filipkowski was a former general counsel to the Sarasota Republican Party who resigned from the 12th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission in Florida in protest against Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and a COVID-19 data dispute. He has since crusaded against the MAGA world on Twitter.
“My hot take: No need for Garland to appoint a special counsel unless you’re going to indict,” MSNBC anchor and legal analyst Katie Phang surmised.
“If Merrick Garland didn’t think there was a serious possibility that Trump would be indicted, he wouldn’t have appointed a special counsel. He didn’t appoint Jack Smith to wind down these investigations,” former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti underscored.
“The end result will likely be a Trump indictment. A trial before the election is likely, but Smith’s appointment makes this more likely to outlast the Biden presidency,” he later added in a Twitter thread.
Conservative activist and President of Judicial Watch Tom Fitton bemoaned the appointment, arguing it was yet another government ploy to badger the former president.
“So Garland will appoint yet another special counsel to harass Trump while refusing to appoint a special counsel on Hunter/Joe Biden criminal investigation. This unequal application of the law is corrupt,” Fitton tweeted. “Garland’s appointment of a special counsel to investigate Trump is election interference.”
Meanwhile, national security lawyer Bradley Moss postulated that Garland’s gambit to play it safe would only drag out the matter, underscoring in quote tweets how it catalyzed Republican calls to impeach Garland.
“Ironically, by announcing a Special Counsel this late in the game Garland just made it more likely that any potential prosecution of Trump will bleed into the 2024 general election season,” Moss tweeted.
Some in Trump’s orbit reportedly believed a preemptive 2024 campaign launch could foil Justice Department plans to lodge an indictment against him, but Garland cited the “former president’s announcement” as part of the impetus for the special counsel appointment in his speech Friday.
While seen by many as a punt amid dicey politics and mounting pressure from Democrats and Republicans on the Trump investigations, some experts underscored that Garland will have the final say in the matter.
After former special counsel Robert Mueller wrapped up his Russia investigation, then-Attorney General William Barr ultimately opted not to bring charges against the then-sitting president. In a similar fashion, Garland will wind up being the ultimate arbiter with Smith as a cudgel to lean on, federal prosecutor Richard Signorelli explained.
“Jack Smith is ‘Special Counsel’ not independent counsel. He will ultimately have to make a written recommendation to Garland who will make the charging decision. 1st, Jack needs to recover from surgery & then move back to DC from the Netherlands. More delay but Jack is excellent,” Signorelli tweeted.
Trump made his 2024 campaign debut official Tuesday. He is either directly or indirectly mired in a number of high-profile legal battles. This includes the two Justice Department inquiries relating to Jan. 6 and the document snafu, among other investigations. Should he return to the presidency, Trump has planned to gut large swathes of the federal government, including portions of the Justice Department, Axios reported.
The last time he endured a special counsel appointment, he faced a sprawling investigation of his ties to Russia and whether he obstructed the inquiry but ultimately emerged indictment-free. This time could be different, with critics and supporters of Trump alike in the legal world apparently largely in agreement that the development is bad news for him.