The Republican Party is preparing to impeach Trump shortly after Election Day

(A hill) — Republican aides and strategists privately expect Attorney General Merrick Garland to indict former President Donald Trump within 60 to 90 days of Election Day, predicting that the window for prosecuting Trump will close once the 2024 presidential campaign rolls around will gain momentum.

Republican aides on Capitol Hill and veteran party strategists stress they have no inside information on what Garland might do, but they say the attorney general is under intense pressure from Democrats to take action and the deadline for prod The indictment is fast approaching.

GOP aides also warn that the Biden administration’s indictment of Trump will further polarize the nation and likely bolster Trump’s GOP support as the former president and his allies frame the Justice Department prosecution as a political witch hunt.

“My guess is that in a couple of weeks after the election, Garland will indict Trump,” said one veteran Republican, a sentiment shared by several other GOP aides and strategists.

A second Republican aide warned that the indictment “could actually help [former] political president”.

“People talked about fragmented support and waning enthusiasm among Republican voters for him. The indictment could actually energize and unify Republicans around him,” the aide said, predicting that the Republican backlash against the indictment would be stronger if Garland were to be indicted later in the 2024 election cycle.

“There is significant risk in waiting,” the source added.

Republican aides and strategists say the party base quickly rallied behind Trump after the FBI raided his Mar-a-Lago estate in early August.

Before the FBI raid, Trump had been mulling announcing his 2024 presidential campaign well before the midterm elections as he appeared to be losing support among Republican voters to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

But GOP aides on Capitol Hill suggest Trump’s anxiety about losing relevance to the GOP base has eased since it rallied around him in August in response to the FBI’s actions.

They warn that the backlash will be stronger if Garland is indicted once Trump’s expected presidential campaign begins in 2024.

A second Republican aide said “the decision that Garland has to make is very difficult,” saying he has a strong potential case to charge Trump with violating Section 793 of the Espionage Act for delivering classified government documents to Mar- a-Lago. At the same time, the aide warned that any prosecution would “plunge a country that is already divided … into a potentially fragile situation.”

Garland played his cards close to the vest, giving little indication of whether he would indict the former president. But the FBI raid in August showed it was willing to investigate him.

There are actually two separate investigations that could lead to Trump being indicted.

One relates to documents taken from the White House and found at Mar-a-Lago, and the other relates to the January 6, 2021, attack on the capital.

While many Democrats would like the justices to charge Trump with inciting the Jan. 6 attack, Jeffrey Robbins, a former federal prosecutor, said federal prosecutors’ strongest argument would be to charge Trump with violating the Espionage Act in connection with the Mar- a- Logo documents.

“I think the Espionage Act violations are relatively straightforward, even obvious, and that the Department probably already has substantial evidence of obstruction of justice,” he said.

Republican Party aides and strategists have warned of the risk of political violence in response to any accusation against Trump. Last month, the former president warned that if the Justice Department indicts him, “this country will have problems that we may never have seen before.”

“I don’t think the people of the United States will stand for it,” he warned.

The former president has not made an official announcement about his decision, but has given every indication that he will make another bid for the White House next year.

Trump told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that the indictment would not prevent him from running for president.

“If that had happened, I would not have been banned from running for office,” he said.

A spokesman for Trump did not respond to a request for comment.

Win Weber, a Republican strategist, said it would be a “bad idea” to impeach Trump because it would sow more political discord in a deeply divided nation and waiting until the 2024 election cycle would only make matters worse.

“I think an indictment is a bad idea, but I think Garland is under so much political pressure from the Democratic left that it could very well happen,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea and I don’t want to be misconstrued as supportive [it.] However, if this happens, it should happen as soon as possible afterwards [midterm] elections as possible, as it complicates everyone’s plans: [President Joe] Biden’s plans, Trump’s plans, all the other Republicans’ plans,” he said.

“If that happens, it’s not in anyone’s interest to drag this process out until the 24-year presidential process starts and drop it like a bomb in the middle of an already established presidential field,” he added.

Some legal experts agree that Garland must act soon if he intends to prosecute Trump to minimize the appearance that the Justice Department is acting with political motives.

“I think the department will seek to file an indictment as soon as it can comply with other restrictions to at least minimize the ‘legs’ of the inevitable barrage of allegations it will face that by indicting the former president it is interfering with upcoming presidential elections,” said Robbins.

He said the Justice Department “will face a firestorm of such criticism whenever it acts, but doing so as quickly as possible at least provides some protection, however limited, from that inevitable criticism.”

Robbins said Garland had good reason to delay announcing the indictment until the 2022 midterm elections because it would immediately become a major political issue in Senate and House elections across the country.

“Had he filed an indictment right before the midterm elections, it would have really shaken up the indictment by criticizing the Justice Department’s de facto policy” of not prosecuting political figures within two to three months of an election and “really undermined the credibility of the indictment.” and, besides, it could well affect the midterm elections,” he added.

But other prominent legal experts don’t think Garland needs to be indicted for the next 60 to 90 days, since the first Republican presidential primary won’t take place until January 2024.

“I doubt the timing of the midterms has much to do with the timing of the indictment of Donald Trump,” said Barbara McQuaid, a University of Michigan law professor and former federal prosecutor.

“The next time he will appear on the ballot, if ever, will be in the 2024 primary election, which begins in January 2024. The DOJ policy will not go into effect until 60 days or so before that date,” she said.

She said Garland “has all of 2023 to play with.”

Faced with mounting political pressure from both parties, Garland has remained silent on prosecuting Trump. However, in August he revealed that he had “personally” approved the Mar-a-Lago raid.

“Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly without fear or favour,” he said in August.

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