FRIDAY, MAY 13, 2022
A preference for "locking them up:" From 2009 through 2015, Eric Holder was President Obama's attorney general.
Holder is intelligent, sensible, smart. He doesn't seem to be crazy at all. We'd call him transparently sane.
Also, Holder has recently changed his mind—or has started to think about changing his mind—concerning a difficult question:
Would it be a good idea to indict former president Trump—to charge him with a crime?
On Monday evening, Holder appeared on The Last Word. At the start of the program, Lawrence O'Donnell quoted Holder's account of a recent change in his thinking:
O`DONNELL (5/9/22): Our first guest tonight is an institutionalist—the 82nd attorney general of the United States of America, Eric Holder.
The current attorney general, Merrick Garland, is an institutionalist. If you asked either of those Justice Department institutionalists say, ten years ago, if they believe that newly appointed attorney generals, serving a newly elected president, should spend time investigating the previous president of another party, or the actions of the Justice Department itself serving that previous president, they both would have said no.
Yesterday, former Attorney General Eric Holder said:
"I am an institutionalist. My initial thought was not to indict the former president out of concern of what how divisive it would be. But given what we have learned, I think that he probably has to be held accountable."
Holder has come to believe that Trump "has to be held accountable"—or at least that he probably should be.
O'Donnell was quoting Holder's Sunday appearance on Face the Nation. Should Donald J. Trump be charged with a crime? Here's the fuller exchange between Holder and Margaret Brennan of CBS:
HOLDER (5/8/22): At some point, people at the Justice Department, perhaps that prosecutor in Atlanta, are going to have to make a determination about whether or not they want to indict Donald Trump. The air is going to be—
BRENNAN: Would you do it?
HOLDER: Well, I think there's going to be sufficient factual information. And I think that there's going to be sufficient proof of intent.
And then the question becomes, What's the impact of such an indictment?
I'm an institutionalist. My initial thought was not to indict the former president out of concern of what—how divisive it would be. But given what we have learned, I think that he probably has to be held accountable.
BRENNAN: We'll leave it on that incredible note.
Eric Holder still isn't totally certain.
Holder knows how divisive an indictment of Trump would be. But he says that, based upon what he now knows, it looks to him like Donald J. Trump probably should be held accountable—probably should be charged with a crime.
On Monday evening, Holder discussed this assessment with O'Donnell. You can peruse MSNBC's error-riddled transcript. To do so, just click here.
Speaking with O'Donnell, Holder discussed the reasons behind his ongoing reluctance. We've never indicted a former president, this former attorney general said. It's the sort of thing they do in other countries, he said. It's something we've never done here.
For what it's worth, we tend to be even more concerned about this idea than Holder now seems to be. In the end, we don't know what Merrick Garland should decide concerning Trump's disordered behavior—but we think an indictment of Donald J. Trump would be profoundly divisive, at a time when our badly floundering nation is already breaking apart.
Having said all that, let us also say this—within our flailing, embattled blue tribe, there are major cadres who basically live for the chance to see Trump (and his allies) locked up.
These people appear, day after day, on Nicolle Wallace's two-hour MSNBC show, Deadline White House. Yesterday, we watched for two solid hours as Wallace and her endless array of upscale guests dreamed of the day when Donald J. Trump would be indicted, with criminal charges against various others thrown in.
On Wallace's popular show, it has been time to "lock them up" for several years now. The program focuses on such delicious possibilities—and on little else.
Holder's concern about where this might lead is rarely mentioned on this show. And of course, the daily issues which bother everyday American citizens also go unmentioned.
Those everyday American citizens are also American voters. For many of them, the dream of locking Trumpists up falls quite low on their current wish list.
That said, the Wallace show brings a daily two-hour focus to the dreams and desires of a highly exercised blue tribe elite.
Life seems to be good for her wealthy guests. To our ear, they seem to spend little time thinking about the topics which take us beyond their private war with corresponding red tribe elites.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our nation's systems have long been falling apart for some time.
On balance, the bugs in those systems make it harder for Democrats to win election—to the House, to Senate, to the White House. They even make it possible to imagine Donald J. Trump ending up in the White House again.
We admire Holder for his obvious sanity. We aren't fans of the tunnel vision displayed by Wallace and her endless array of upper-end guests.
For decades now, our own blue tribe has shown little interest in hearing about the interests, concerns and beliefs of The Others—of the people who keep defeating us in elections, helped along by the Electoral College and by so-called "Senate math."
We spent two hours yesterday watching Wallace act out her dreams. Our general view?
Every time she leads a discussion, Trump voters are getting their wings.
Wallace and her stable of guests keep dreaming of locking them up. This emphasis strikes us as unwise. Holder sees this as a potentially dangerous move. We agree with his reluctance, and raise him some.
Our tribe isn't always real skilled at dealing with Others. With apologies:
As our own focus slowly returns, we expect to offer more cogent thoughts on this topic next week. Our nation has entered a dangerous time. We need to think very clearly.