Litman:Trump’s candidacy complicates a potential criminal case against him, but it can’t protect him from indictmentBy John Litman
When U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the criminal investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, it made his appointment to the seat his new attorney general, William Barr, the first ever with no prior connection to the department in its long history, which makes his tenure a potential new precedent for the way presidents are indicted. And, of course, Trump’s potential indictment could change our politics. But it might also change the ways we think about this presidency—and, by extension, what makes us both a democracy and a republic, two concepts that both are under attack in Trump’s America. So here’s a question: If Barr, the same guy who is now tasked with overseeing the Justice Department investigation, can’t even bring back to federal government work the man who prosecuted the president in a criminal case for the alleged crime, how can his appointment to oversee the investigation be a model for justice? And here’s another question: What does Mueller find, and why did the White House have to fire him? Those questions and more are what make Barr’s new role in overseeing the investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia the kind of drama that makes this country more interesting, and perhaps more than ever before, in Trump’s America.
Here, we turn to a new book, The Mueller Report, by journalist Amy Davidson, which chronicles the final days and hours of the probe into the president’s campaign because, as she writes in the introduction, during the 2016 campaign, “Trump appeared in public almost daily,” making Trump “the first president since Richard Nixon to do this.” The book chronology is, by the way, very interesting. It starts with the “drip-drip-drip” of the campaign, which is where the word “Trump” appears in the book, which means it is the beginning of the criminal investigation, instead of the end. As Davidson writes:
It began with Trump’s acceptance of his party