Are sealed indictments by Robert Mueller the equivalent of legal time bombs for Trump? I have been reading up on the speculation about Robert Mueller’s investigation and sealed indictments, and if there are any lawyers on Daily Kos, I would appreciate your input. First up, here is one definition of a sealed indictment:
When an indictment is issued on someone, it means he will definitely be arrested and charged with the crime. A sealed indictment is simply an indictment that is kept secret from the public. At this point, no one can disclose the existence of the indictment so no one knows who is under investigation for a crime and what offense he allegedly has committed. At some appropriate moment which prosecutors decide, the indictment is unsealed and a warrant is issued for the suspect's arrest. So, while an indictment may start out sealed, it will become unsealed before the defendant goes to trial.
Assuming that Mueller has some sealed indictments against people in the Trump Administration or campaign officials, the sealed indictments are not opened until the person is taken into custody:
Sealed indictments are routinely employed by federal prosecutors in sensitive investigations, particularly when a public indictment might have a negative effect on an ongoing investigation. To carry out this strategy, Mueller would request that the already empaneled grand jury—the one considering matters related to Russian interference in the election—issue criminal charges against Trump himself. If the grand jury were to find probable cause for the charges to proceed, whatever they might be, a magistrate judge would then decide whether the indictment could remain secret. If the judge were to determine that it could, the charges would then remain hidden from public view until the criminal defendant is taken into custody or released on bail.
As the Politico article points out, the unsealing of the indictment is up to a judge not some hack at the DOJ.
If Trump were to fire Mueller, an already filed sealed indictment would outlast Mueller’s tenure. A sealed indictment can only be dismissed by a judge, meaning Trump cannot rid himself of a legal headache simply by terminating the special counsel. A sealed indictment would also ensure that the statute of limitations for crimes Trump might be charged with would not expire. This leaves open the possibility of Trump being tried in the future.
This sure sounds like a legal time bomb to me.
Trump could fire Mueller, but any sealed indictments could be hanging around waiting for a judge to unseal them. And if Mueller believes you cannot indict a sitting president, what if Trump loses in 2020? All of Trump’s protections end when he is a former president. Trump would be a private citizen then. And there would be no Republican Senate to act as a rigged jury for a trial for impeachment.
What good does charging Trump AFTER he might lose in 2020? Well, there is this little problem that our current political system has let all presidents off the hook for misdeeds in office. Besides Ford pardoning Nixon, Democrats did nothing to Reagan or George Herbert Walker Bush for Iran-Contra. This set the stage for political comebacks by the worst sort of politicians during the George W. Bush Administration. And Obama and the Democrats did nothing about George W. Bush and the Iraq War.
No accountability for the occupant of the White House has brought us to this point.
While I would love to see Trump indicted, tried, convicted, and sent to prison right NOW, the legal system takes time. And what I think does not matter in a court of law. I do not think that House Democrats will impeach Trump, at least not any time soon. There will need to be congressional investigations first, and Democrats will wait for Mueller to move before any real movement on impeachment.
And you can forget about the U.S. Senate doing anything about Trump not while Republicans control that body. I suspect that would factor into any decision by Democrats to even think about impeachment. it is a legitimate argument of “Why go through impeachment when a trial by the U.S. Senate will end in no conviction?”
Therefore, we have to vote Trump out in 2020.
Afterwards, those potentially sealed indictments would start to bring some measure of accountability to Trump and Trumpism, at least that is my hope. I do know that not charging Trump or any of his cronies will reward Republicans for their criminality, and it will continue the downward trend that democracy is taking in this country.
What do you all think?