Post-Watergate reforms may frame DOJ decision over prosecuting Trump

The break-in at the Watergate complex 50 years ago this week led to a sweeping government ethics overhaul that included a push to insulate the Department of Justice (DOJ) from politics.


In a historical twist, this nearly half-century-old corrective may help frame the DOJ’s fraught decision over whether to criminally charge former President Trump for his effort to overturn the 2020 election results.


For Attorney General Merrick Garland, the dilemma involves weighing competing interests: his mission to repair the DOJ’s reputation as a nonpolitical agency directly clashes and the imperative to deter a future coup attempt, where a failure to hold Trump and his allies personally accountable risks leaving American democracy vulnerable to another attack.