There’s still a big question of the overall wisdom of a prosecution, however well justified. If, God forbid, Trump runs and wins in 2024, the first thing he’ll do is find any pretext to prosecute Joe Biden, and then it’s off to the races. If you were in Merrick Garland’s shoes, what would you do?
The climate, and the world, are changing. What challenges will the future bring, and how should we respond to them?
Gail: Well, if I wanted to make sure the reputation of Merrick Garland didn’t suffer, I’d prosecute rather than risk being remembered as the guy who wimped out. And as a matter of principle … well, gee.
Bret: Though, sometimes, not prosecuting is the truly gutsy thing to do. Sorry, go on.
Gail: But I do think there’s a danger to setting that kind of precedent at a time when the country has lost a lot of the old bipartisan values that, while frequently deeply irritating, did keep us chugging along as a nation. You’re totally right about what Trump would try to do if he got himself re-elected in 2024.
Which, oh, God, involves a campaign that seems as if it might be starting any minute. The struggle inside the Republican Party appears to be about whether Trump should declare his candidacy now or have the grace to wait until after the midterm elections.
What’s your prediction?
Bret: It hasn’t gone unnoticed in Trump’s inner circle of political advisers that there’s a quiet but palpable turning away from the 45th president among a lot of Republicans. Nobody wants to cross him outright, but you can sense they’re hoping he won’t run and instead endorse the presumptive candidacy of Ron DeSantis. And they’re trying to win Trump over by suggesting that he’d be stronger as a kingmaker than as a king — limited, incidentally, to a single additional term.
Bret: Of course, from everything I know about Trump, this will just be an incentive for him to abort the DeSantis candidacy in utero, so to speak, by announcing sooner rather than later that he means to run. Of course, this also makes it much easier for Trump to say that any prosecution is politically motivated.