The Benefit of the Doubt

Dismay and a wider view

Stepping back from my dismay that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not yet indicted Donald Trump brings into view the wider context that suggests good reason to give AG Merrick Garland and the DOJ the benefit of the doubt.

In the executive branch of federal government, the Department of Justice is responsible for protecting and enforcing “the rule of law” but the DOJ cannot do its job by itself. The Attorney General would be foolish to indict Donald Trump without careful planning with other departments and agencies that bear responsibility for domestic civil order and national security. How, when, and where to take Donald Trump into custody are daunting questions the DOJ cannot answer alone. The likelihood of January 6 on steroids received cheers just a few days ago when Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene stoked the embers of January 6.

“I tell you what,” she said, “if Steve Bannon and I had organized that [i.e., January 6], we would have won, not to mention we would’ve been armed.”

The necessity and threat of collaboration

Collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security, Capitol Police, Speaker of the House and Minority Leader, Senate Majority and Minority Leader, the Senate and House Judiciary Committees and the Secret Service would seem wise and prudent. Donald Trump is no longer in the Oval Office, but his fingerprints everywhere in the executive branch of government, in Congress, and in the judiciary. One slip, one leak could trigger a greater horror than January 6.

There are ‘moles’ — Far Right operatives — embedded in the institutions meant to protect the Constitution and we, the people. No interagency plan is secure. The DOJ is in a pickle. The pickle is green, but it’s not Kosher. It’s only green inside, with different shades of green we don’t see in ordinary times, green as in Marjorie … and Peter Navarro’s “The Green Bay Sweep.”

This week, the House Special Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol will make public its referrals for criminal investigation and release its final report. The Republican Party, led by the Freedom Caucus, will call it a witch hunt. Jim Jordan, soon to become chair of the House Judiciary Committee, will fulfill his pledge to investigate the investigators and impeach Attorney General Garland and the president who “stole the election” of 2020.

Reservation and purpose of evasion

January 3, every elected member of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate will take the Constitutional Oath of Office. “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic… without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion….”

The Constitution has already been undermined by Far Right members of Congress who cross their fingers while mouthing the words about domestic enemies. Once again, they will have no scruples taking the Oath without reservation or purpose of evasion.

Nothing feels sane these days because it isn’t. Doubt is always in order.‘Thinking outside the box’ requires us to keep our eyes fixed on what is happening inside the box — the institutions meant to uphold and preserve the rule of law, guard the nation from enemies foreign and domestic, and protect the future of democracy.

Gordon C. Stewart, public theologian, Author of Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness (2017, Wipf and Stock), Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, December 18, 2022.

2 thoughts on “The Benefit of the Doubt

  1. Gordon, The non-Kosher Green Pickle 🥒 caught my Eye. There has been an enormous amount of time trying to determine if DJT was …. Fill in the blank..
    The Yale Medicine Faculty Psychiatrist wrote in 2016 that the problem was not TRUMP is mentally ill, because he is, but 70,000,000 of our country think he is a genius or the second coming of Jesus. Trump is profoundly mentally ill. Perhaps insane. Anny casual reading of the DSM-V SOCIOPATH, Psychopath or Narcissist. He hit the Trifecta .

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    • Jim, you always go to the heart of things. He is a Trifecta and he’s still racing around the track free of a bit and rein. He is a magnet that draws something to itself in those 70,000,000 who are mesmerized, and we’d better find a way (sooner than later) to interrupt the magnetic field. If and when the savior is indicted, he may plead not guilty by reason of insanity, but only a certain kind of judge would all that plea. We are learning again how fragile we human beings are. Stringfellow would talk again of idolatry — DJT and the nation being saved by destroying it. The golden calf is not a fairy tale.

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