Following Tribe “lesson”, Holder urges Trump indictment which should encourage Willis to press boldly on
Written by Robert Weiner and Arthur Ferridge
35-Supreme Court case winner Laurence Tribe’s admonishment on MSNBC of ex-Attorney General Eric Holder’s apprehension to indict Donald Trump in Georgia followed by Holder’s U-turn should give Fani Willis courage to press her case and make less of some calls for “discretion” to prosecute the ex-president.
On Jan. 4, 2021, then-President Donald Trump made the famous phone call which now threatens to halt his political career. During the call, which was recorded in its entirety, Trump begged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes,” one more than was necessary to reverse the state of Georgia’s result. It was a desperate and unprecedented move to rig the results of his doomed reelection campaign.
While the January 6th committee is meeting to begin their official investigations, Fani Willis, Fulton County’s District Attorney, faces an equally important case which could be headed for indictments at the very top.
She should pay heed to 35-time Supreme Court winning lawyer Laurence Tribe. Appearing on Lawrence O’Donnell’s The Last Word, Tribe said “When people say as the Attorney General Eric Holder did on your air last night… that it would be divisive to indict [Trump]… With all respect, divisiveness is a given in our situation. It would encourage him to do it again to not indict him.”
In his rebuttal, Tribe added that “The evidence is piling up… [and] quite clearly establishes… that [Trump] is guilty of various forms of criminal conspiracy.”
Tribe’s denunciation caused Holder to reevaluate and reinforce his opinions, who stated the next day on MSNBC’s Deadline White House that “If you focus on accountability and deterrence that takes you to a place this republic has never been before.” The same day, in an interview at the National Press Club, he added that misinformation surrounding the election is on par with German WW2 propaganda. “The impact of the big lie is something we have to counteract.”
It is now down to Willis and her grand jury to complete the investigation of the call and decide whether to recommend charges or charge him on her own authority, Willis finds herself in a race against time to compile evidence and build her case under pressure of a repeat of similar actions from Trump in the 2022 and 2024 elections, as well as from pundits, politicians, and critics nationwide.
Willis has begun to make headway with the investigation as she begins to subpoena relevant politicians including Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, who had been threatened by Trump for championing a lawsuit against him.
Despite the magnitude of the task she faces, Willis cannot afford to beat around the bush. To stand a chance against the mammoth political machine backing Trump, it is imperative that she move quickly.
One job of the Justice Department is to weed out corrupt politicians, regardless of their popularity or electability, something it has not shied away from in the past. Then-Vice President Spiro Agnew was indicted for tax fraud and taking bribes in the White House basement while in office, and Congressman William Jefferson was found guilty of accepting bribes and hiding them in his freezer while in office. Illinois Governor Blagojevich, the “Abscam” bribed senators and House members, and even Ways and Means Chair Dan Rostenkowski for postal misuse were all indicted. Many of these people were put in jail or agreed to plea deals not to run again. The precedent is set for Willis to properly prosecute Trump and she cannot let his political pedigree intimidate her.
As for the racketeering charges Willis is also investigating, Trump political partners Mark Meadows, Lindsey Graham, and others bullied Georgia officials to change the vote count.
If convicted of election rigging, Trump could face up to three years in prison, per Georgia law. The racketeering charge, however, could fetch up to twenty years behind bars.
Raffensperger’s renomination as Georgia’s Secretary of State despite Trump’s outspoken opposition highlights voters’ desire to protect true election results.
Willis faces strong opposition from elsewhere in Georgia. The Republican machine will do all in its power to delay or block the trial as they attempt to defend their flagship man, as others in the Georgia legislature claim that the trial would be a waste of time, energy and resources.
It is crucial that Willis work past this intimidation to do what is necessary in prosecuting the guilty and protecting Georgia’s and America’s democracy.
Robert Weiner is a former spokesman for the Clinton and Bush White Houses, the U.S. House Government Operations and Judiciary Committees under Chairman John Conyers, and 4-Star Gen. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey. Arthur Ferridge is policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.