“Ultimate Hail Mary”: Experts say desperate Trump letter to Garland signals indictment is “imminent”

Special counsel wrapping up Mar-a-Lago probe — and Trump team thinks it’s a “foregone conclusion” he’ll be charged

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published May 24, 2023 8:46AM (EDT)

Donald Trump and Merrick Garland (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Donald Trump and Merrick Garland (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Donald Trump's lawyers sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday requesting a meeting about the Justice Department investigations into the former president.

Special counsel Jack Smith is wrapping up his investigation into Trump's handling of classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago and some of Trump's close associates are "bracing for his indictment and anticipate being able to fundraise off a prosecution," The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

Trump hours after the report published a letter from his attorneys to Garland alleging that he was being "treated unfairly" by Smith.

"No President of the United States has ever, in the history of our country, been baselessly investigated in such an outrageous and unlawful fashion," Trump attorneys John Rowley and Jim Trusty wrote in the letter. "We request a meeting at your earliest convenience to discuss the ongoing injustice that is being perpetrated by your Special Counsel and his prosecutors."

It's unclear whether Garland would accept such a meeting.

"Merrick Garland will not meet with Trusty or any of the other Trump lawyers," former Garland spokesperson Anthony Coley told The New York Times. "Jack Smith is running this investigation, not Merrick Garland."

Former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks called the letter "wrong in so many ways," rejecting the lawyers' claims.

The "investigation is well founded in facts," she wrote on Twitter, adding that President Richard Nixon was also "investigated for his crimes, although Trump's are more numerous and far worse for democracy."

"The lack of seriousness of sending this letter is evidenced by their putting it on Trump's social media," she wrote.

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

Former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman called the letter "the ultimate Hail Mary" that signals the Trump team expects an indictment.

"Sophisticated defense lawyers – and Trump still has one or two of those – understand that you ask for a meeting with the attorney general only as the very last step to stave off an indictment," he tweeted. "That means team Trump expects the charges to come soon."

Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, who served on special counsel Bob Mueller's team, agreed that the letter signals a "federal indictment is nigh."

"You don't do this unless you think indictments are imminent," wrote national security attorney Bradley Moss.

Former federal prosecutor Robert Ray, who served as Trump's lawyer during his first impeachment, told CNN that the letter is an ominous sign for the former president.

"It suggests to me that, I think, they think the special counsel's decision is a foregone conclusion," he said, "which means the only avenue left to pursue is whether or not the attorney general will authorize the prosecution."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

MORE FROM Igor Derysh

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Aggregate Donald Trump Jack Smith Mar-a-lago Merrick Garland Politics