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For Trump, It's the White House or the Big House

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Donald Trump
Donald Trump
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There is more than enough evidence to convict Donald Trump on a wide variety of federal and state criminal charges. He is no less guilty than all the other men now going to prison for him, and prosecuting the charges would be no more difficult.

From obstruction to campaign finance violations and bribery, the evidence already available far exceeds the legal threshold for indictment and conviction.

Right now, only two things are preventing Trump from being arrested and tried. The first is Attorney General William Barr. Barr, like Rudy Giuliani, is acting as Trump's personal attorney first and as Attorney General of the United States second, if at all. It is hard to imagine a scenario in which Barr would allow the DoJ to take any formal legal action against Trump, the Fifth Avenue shooting hypothetical notwithstanding. Barr was installed to watch Trump's back, and he has every intention of misusing his position as Attorney General to do just that.

The second is the oft-cited OLC Memos. The memos in their totality establish as DoJ policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Remember, that's a DoJ guideline, not a constitutional principle or legal determination. Nonetheless, before Trump, the memos were regarded with sacred-cow reverence. Now that the nation is beset by Trump and Trumpism, the courts are finally starting to question the DoJ's position.

The net effect of all this is that Donald Trump is effectively trapped in the Oval Office. If he leaves the presidency, either by impeachment-mandated removal or resignation, he will be subject to prosecution and based on the evidence, likely conviction.

Sure, there is a back door. It's the same one Nixon exited through. Resign and turn the reins of power over to a replacement who would then pardon you. Nixon had Ford, and at least at this stage, Trump has Pence, who would likely do as Ford did.

Caveat! A federal pardon might exempt Trump from federal prosecution, but it wouldn't do anything to shield Trump or any of his family members from prosecution in state courts. Such states would include New York and Florida, both states in which Trump has long, well-documented histories of creative and eyebrow-raising financial dealings. Specifically, that would include Trump's own and his family members' state tax filings, items the state of New York is now actively seeking in a case apparently headed to the Supreme Court. However it's unlikely that even this ridiculously autocrat-friendly court would find that Trump's tax returns are beyond law enforcement review. That would be silly, right?

While Barr and the OLC memos may be preventing Trump from being prosecuted while in office, it's the Republican members of the Senate who are preventing him from being removed from office by impeachment, and they are taking big personal risks to do it.

Others in recent memory have put themselves at personal risk to protect Donald Trump. Such noteworthy figures include his former personal attorney/fixer Michael Cohen, his former 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his former National Security adviser Michael Flynn, and his 2016 campaign adviser Roger Stone. All of whom are convicted of federal felonies and two of whom are currently serving time in federal facilities.

Republicans in the Senate waiting for the Trump bus to take them to the promised land, the same bus incidentally that appeared in the infamous Access Hollywood video, might want to take a peek under that bus when it pulls up. They'll notice two things: there are quite a few former Trump loyalists under there, and there's room for quite a few more.

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Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, now the founder, editor and publisher of Reader Supported News:

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