What Garland’s pro-DOJ Washington Post op-ed gets wrong

(Daily Caller News Foundation) – Attorney General Merrick Garland attempted Wednesday to shut down criticism of the Biden Department of Justice (DOJ) with an op-ed in The Washington Post. But his…

(Daily Caller News Foundation) – Attorney General Merrick Garland attempted Wednesday to shut down criticism of the Biden Department of Justice (DOJ) with an op-ed in The Washington Post. But his flat dismissal of concerns over the DOJ’s politicization as “conspiracy theories” fails to engage with the facts.

Garland’s response in the Post came the week after he testified during a House Judiciary Committee hearing that he would “not be intimidated” by attacks on the department, and ahead of a House vote holding him in contempt of Congress for declining to turn over the recording of President Joe Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur.

Below are annotated excerpts from the op-ed, with Garland’s words in italics and the context he omitted beneath in plain text:

In recent weeks, we have seen an escalation of attacks that go far beyond public scrutiny, criticism, and legitimate and necessary oversight of our work. They are baseless, personal and dangerous.

These attacks come in the form of threats to defund particular department investigations, most recently the special counsel’s prosecution of the former president.

Garland ignores the differences in the prosecution of Trump and Biden for similar behavior with classified documents.

For instance, Trump’s case involved an armed raid on Mar-a-Lago, while in Biden’s case his personal lawyers searched his papers.

The DOJ has spent over $23 million on the two investigations into former President Donald Trump, while spending only around $6.4 million on the probe into Biden’s handling of classified documents, according to numbers released in January.

The Biden DOJ also opposed efforts to limit its “settlement slush fund,” which enables it to direct funds toward left-wing nonprofits.

They come in the form of conspiracy theories crafted and spread for the purpose of undermining public trust in the judicial process itself. Those include false claims that a case brought by a local district attorney and resolved by a jury verdict in a state trial was somehow controlled by the Justice Department.

Garland forgets to mention that this so-called local case was led by a former top Biden administration official.

Matthew Colangelo, formerly the third ranking official in the Biden DOJ, joined the the Manhattan District Attorney’s office as senior counsel in December 2022 while Bragg’s investigation into Trump was ongoing.

While the DOJ said this week that a search revealed no communications between department leadership and Bragg’s office, many have questioned why a top official would step down from one of the most high-ranking positions in the legal world to take a role in the office of a local prosecutor.

Colangelo previously led the investigation into the Trump Foundation and the investigation that became Trump’s civil fraud case while working for the New York District Attorney’s office. In 2018, he received $12,000 from the Democratic National Committee for “political consulting,” according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records. 

They come in the form of false claims that the department is politicizing its work to somehow influence the outcome of an election. Such claims are often made by those who are themselves attempting to politicize the department’s work to influence the outcome of an election.

Garland does not mention the extreme steps his DOJ has gone through to bring the charges in the height of the election season. Special counsel Jack Smith pushed hard to get Trump’s Jan. 6 case to trial before the election, even asking the Supreme Court to take up the presidential immunity appeal before allowing the lower court to weigh in.

Former DOJ official Jack Goldsmith called Smith’s rush to trial “wildly unfair” and suggested it violated both the “normal rules of fairness” to defendants and a DOJ rule barring prosecutors from selecting the timing of their actions for the “purpose of affecting any election.”

Moreover, the DOJ has declined to turn over audio of Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur to Congress. According to the transcript of that interview, Biden appeared to misremember key facts about his life.

Garland also overlooks the FBI pressuring big tech to censor Biden’s opponent’s political speech. In the Murthy v. Missouri First Amendment case now pending before the Supreme Court, an appeals court found the FBI, along with other federal agencies, violated the First Amendment by coercing or significantly encouraging social media companies to censor speech, including COVID-19 and election-related speech ahead of the 2020 election. While many of these actions took place under the Trump administration, the FBI’s efforts largely targeted conservatives, and Biden’s DOJ has vigorously defended the administration’s actions through the court proceedings.

The Justice Department makes decisions about criminal investigations based only on the facts and the law. We do not investigate people because of their last name, their political affiliation, the size of their bank account, where they come from or what they look like. We investigate and prosecute violations of federal law — nothing more, nothing less.

Those on opposite sides of America’s abortion debate would likely have a different view of Garland’s claims of impartiality. Dozens of attacks on pregnancy centers and churches remain unprosecuted while the DOJ turns its sights on pro-lifers who protest abortion clinics, convicting multiple under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. For peacefully blocking a clinic in 2020, a federal judge sentenced 75-year-old Paulette Harlow to two years in prison, while Lauren Handy was given a 57 month prison sentence in May.

Mark Houck, the pro-life activist and father whose home was raided by armed FBI agents in 2022 while his children were home, was found not guilty after the DOJ indicted him for allegedly assaulting an abortion clinic volunteer.

This month, the DOJ indicted Texas surgeon Dr. Eithan Haim, a whistleblower who revealed Texas Children’s Hospital was still performing sex change procedures on minors despite promising it had stopped, on four felony counts for allegedly violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. 

Garland conveniently leaves out the time he himself threatened concerned parents with the full force of the U.S. government. Garland directed the FBI in 2022 to “use its authority” to address threats “against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff” after the National School Board Association (NSBA) asked the administration to enforce domestic terror laws against parents protesting at school board meetings.

Garland doesn’t mention DOJ’s criminal charges for posting naughty memes. Douglass Mackey was sentenced to prison time after the DOJ charged him with conspiring to deprive others of the right to vote for sharing a fake flier on social media encouraging Hillary Clinton supporters to vote via text during the 2016 election.

Garland leaves out his DOJs excessive charging of those at the US Capitol as compared to other American rioters. The Supreme Court is also currently weighing what Jan. 6 defendants have argued is the DOJ’s broad use of an obstruction statute intended to target crimes of evidence tampering — which carries up to 20 years in prison — to charge hundreds of individuals at the Capitol that day.

DOJ prosecutors have routinely sought lengthy sentences for Capitol rioters while pursuing lighter sentences for violent criminals and left-wing activists.

Garland brushes over the sweetheart deal his department tried to arrange for Hunter Biden. Special counsel David Weiss spent years avoiding bringing charges against Hunter Biden, only doing so after IRS whistleblowers came forward last year with claims that the investigation had been slow-walked and contradicted Garland’s testimony about the case. His conviction was secured at trial only because a federal judge questioned a provision of his “sweetheart” plea deal that would have offered broad immunity, prompting a dispute between the defense and prosecutors that led to Biden pleading not guilty.

The Justice Department will continue to uphold its obligation under the Constitution to fiercely defend the right of all Americans to peacefully express opinions, beliefs and ideas. Disagreements about politics are good for our democracy. They are normal.

Garland ignores the historically unprecedented charges his DOJ has brought against political opponents. Though there is almost no historical precedent, the DOJ pushed to have both former Trump advisor Steve Bannon and former Trump aide Peter Navarro serve prison terms on contempt of Congress charges after they were convicted for ignoring subpoenas from the Jan. 6 select committee. Navarro is currently serving a four-month sentence that began in March and a judge ordered Bannon last week to report to prison by July 1.

Yet others who defied subpoenas were not similarly prosecuted for contempt of Congress. For instance, Hunter Biden has to date faced no consequences for choosing to hold a press conference on Capitol Hill in December rather than sitting for his deposition.

Concerns about bias against Republicans within the DOJ predate the Biden administration. In 2019, the House Oversight Committee questioned whether the DOJ leaked the indictment of Trump associate Roger Stone to CNN after the outlet somehow knew to be on the scene to record the FBI’s early highly-armed morning raid on the aging and harmless political operative. Former Attorney General William Barr also said during a 2019 hearing that he believed “spying did occur” by U.S. intelligence agencies on the 2016 Trump campaign.

The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.