MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough has been steadfast in his consistent criticism of former president Donald Trump and his mishandling of classified documents – but even he agrees with former attorney general Bill Barr that an indictment could ultimately do more harm than good.
On Thursday morning, Scarborough honed in on the potential repercussions that could result from Trump being indicted after the U.S. government recovered more than 320 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago since January, including 103 seized in the recent FBI raid. Ultimately, the host agreed with Barr’s commentary in a recent Fox News interview that the Department of Justice would be better off in the long run but not subjecting the country to a prolonged legal battle with the former president.
“If he is indicted, as the law would suggest he should be indicted, then you can bet your bottom dollar that Republicans will do everything they can, a Republican administration, to indict the next Democratic predecessor that they have,” Scarborough said.
He continued: “You know, there is a reason why Jerry Ford won his profile in courage, because he is willing to sacrifice a presidency to stop the long national nightmare that Richard Nixon was responsible for. Over time, when people cooled down, they decided that was best for our republic. I think the extent of what Donald Trump has done is so egregious that no attorney general, no fair-minded attorney general would have any choice to indict him. But that doesn’t also make it true that it will set, as Barr was saying, an absolutely horrendous precedent.”
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Scarborough admitted that Barr was “asking the right questions” when contemplating the prospective fallout from a DOJ indictment. While he acknowledged that a lack of action against Trump may upset Democrats, he felt the subsequent blowback would not be worth it overall.
“The government can indict Donald Trump, they have a case to indict Donald Trump,” said Scarborough. “Then Barr asks the question that certainly won’t be popular among many watching this show, won’t be popular among many Democrats, but asks the question: Should they indict him?”
John Heilemann conceded that political retribution for targeting Trump would represent an immense obstacle moving forward. However, he argued that the former president must also be held to a legal standard in order to prevent similar behavior from commanders in chief in the future.
“I fear that that is going to be the door that’s going to be opened here,” Heilemann said. “Yet, I can’t believe — and I think you and I agree about this — I can’t believe that you would want to set the other precedent, which is that a president could leave office, steal a bunch of documents, take them off to their private home, including top secret documents…and we’re going to let that president get away with that. You set a precedent in either case.”