Naturally, reporters want to know whether Attorney General Merrick Garland intends to investigate and convict Donald Trump for his failed insurrection. They also want to know whether the AG will prosecute the former president for his big lie and continuing attempts to overthrow our government.
Garland held a press briefing at his Department of Justice (DOJ) home office in Washington, D.C., The Guardian reported. He noted that he was indeed watching the House January 6 Select Committee hearings. Many do not think it is a good idea for the Select Committee or others to pressure him regarding an investigation, though. It would look as if he was at the mercy of the Legislative Branch when in truth, it was his decision alone.
AG Garland said at his briefing, according to CNN:
‘[T]he justice department’s headquarters in Washington that internal office of legal counsel guidelines did not prevent him from opening an investigation into the former president.’
The purpose of the briefing was to “announce charges against alleged gun trafficker Demontre Hackworth.” Of course, he expected off-the-topic questions. Even though the AG is a highly cautious man, his remarks gave the audience hope.
CNN Justice Correspondent Evan Perez asked him:
‘[Have] you’ve had a chance to look at the hearings or watch the hearings on Capitol Hill by the Jan. 6 Committee, and if you’ve learned anything, perhaps, that could be useful in the Justice Department’s work?’
AG Garland added that not all of his viewing would be live, but he would watch it:
‘So I am watching, and I will be watching all the hearings, although I may not be able to watch all of it live. And I can assure you that the January 6 prosecutors are watching all the hearings as well.’
Then, the attorney general said there were three “coequal” reasons to keep quiet:
‘We have three reasons, they’re all, I say, coequal. One is that our investigations generally proceed quietly and in secret so that we don’t tell witnesses where we are. We don’t want them to know. We want truthful answers as we approach, we want to be able to do our subpoenas and search warrants without any risk. Eventually, that information comes out, comes out in the form of our search warrant affidavits, comes out in our orders, comes out in our pleadings, and eventually, if there are charges. But for our investigations to proceed in an efficient way, we have learned over many, many years this is the way our investigation should go.’
The second reason was it “protects the civil liberties” of the uncharged:
‘Secondly, this is what protects the civil liberties of people who have not been charged. We don’t impugn people until we actually charge them. You know, this is part of the rule of law in America.’
The final reason was that “over 800 people” are currently “facing proceedings:”
‘And third, there are the people who we have charged, as all of you well know, we’ve charged well over 800 people now in connection with January 6th. Some of them have pled, but others are facing proceedings. And for us to comment about evidence, some of which regards them, some of which regards others, could affect their cases and could affect our ability to proceed in an effective way. So that’s the reason, and it’s the reason that this has been the longstanding position of the Justice Department.’
A reporter asked him if he could file “conspiracy charges against people at the highest levels of this government or previous governments.” His answer was a vigorous, “there’s nothing that’s coming in the way of our investigation:”
‘We are proceeding with full urgency with respect, as I’ve said many times before, to hold all perpetrators who are criminally responsible for January 6 accountable, regardless of their level or their position and regardless of whether they were present at the events of January 6. We’re just going to follow the facts wherever they lead.’
Watch this space.
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