First, CNN was actually critical of the job President Joe Biden was (wasn’t) doing related to the collapse of Afghanistan. Now, the network has offered up an unlikely ally for former President Trump in Jeffrey Toobin, who has called on Attorney General Merrick Garland not to pursue charges against Trump.
In it, he writes:
“It’s one thing to describe the former president’s behavior as disgraceful and wrong — and I’d share that view — but quite another to argue that Trump should be criminally prosecuted. Based on the available evidence, there is no basis to prosecute Trump and little reason even to open a criminal investigation.”
Toobin defended Trump against the Insurrection Act, claiming that there are “two insurmountable problems” with the argument. The Act prohibits anyone who “incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto.”
“First, Trump’s words were ambiguous. He urged a march to Capitol Hill, but he also discouraged violence,” Toobin contended.
“Second, he could argue that he was seeking to uphold the rule of law by obtaining an accurate count of the election results, not seeking to rebel against the authority of the United States.”
He also said Trump couldn’t be charged with claims of election fraud:
“Trump would assert that he was seeking to uphold the law, not violate it, and prosecutors would have a hard time proving otherwise.”
“He had a First Amendment right to protest the count of the electoral vote, as did the protesters. It could be said that Trump encouraged the protesters to ‘impede’ the electoral count, but he would argue that he was doing so to make the count more accurate, not more corrupt.”
Toobin also shot down claims that Trump should be criminally charged under the Hatch Act, stating: “Notwithstanding the Hatch Act, presidents and their staffs have engaged in partisan political activities since the birth of the Republic. And Trump could argue that he was not ordering [Jeffrey] Rosen to engage in political activity, but rather to enforce the law. Again, this criminal provision has rarely been invoked, and it seems unfair to raise it in connection with Trump’s dealings with his acting attorney general.”
Finally, he concluded: “Investigations of presidential wrongdoing, by Congress and others, are wise and even necessary. But actual prosecutions are not, and Donald Trump should be the beneficiary of this tradition, even if he himself would surely not offer such grace to others.”