Progressives urge Biden pick for attorney general to prosecute Trump
A prominent progressive group on Saturday called on the Biden administration’s Justice Department to pursue criminal charges against former President Trump, just moments after Trump’s acquittal in his impeachment trial.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) responded to the Senate trial verdict by circulating a petition to its nearly one million members calling on Biden’s nominee for attorney general, Merrick Garland, to investigate and prosecute Trump and his associates.
“If we want accountability for Trump and his criminal network, we cannot just depend on Democratic leaders,” their statement read. “We need to push them. A lot.”
The outcome of Trump’s Senate trial has no legal bearing on his potential criminal liability over his role in the deadly Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol, though his acquittal may intensify pressure on the Biden administration to pursue criminal charges.
At the same, Biden is likely to face calls to turn the page on the Trump era and sidestep the political baggage that would accompany a criminal probe and possible prosecution of a former president.
Biden said multiple times during the 2020 presidential campaign that it would fall to his attorney general to decide whether to prosecute Trump. Garland, his nominee, has not given any indication as to the likelihood of Trump being prosecuted once he takes over at the Department of Justice (DOJ) following his likely confirmation in coming weeks.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who voted to acquit Trump on Saturday, made an apparent allusion to possible criminal repercussions that Trump could still confront.
“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he’s in office,” McConnell said during a speech on the Senate floor following Trump’s acquittal. “He didn’t get away with anything yet.”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), one of the House impeachment managers, seized on McConnell’s apparent reference to the potential for Trump to face criminal charges.
“My interpretation of McConnell speech: President Trump should be in prison,” Lieu tweeted.
Separately from a possible federal probe, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine has not ruled out pursuing a criminal case against Trump for potentially violating D.C. laws prohibiting incitement.