Attorney General Refuses to Be ‘Intimidated’ by Congressional Threats

June 4, 2024 by Tom Ramstack
Attorney General Refuses to Be ‘Intimidated’ by Congressional Threats
Attorney General Merrick Garland is sworn-in during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Department of Justice, Tuesday, June 4, 2024, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON — U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a congressional hearing Tuesday that he would “not be intimidated” by Republicans who threatened to hold him in contempt for declining to turn over information to them.

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee also accused him and the Justice Department of pursuing a political agenda with their prosecutions.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the committee chairman, said Garland “weaponized” the Justice Department.

He joined other Republicans in threatening Garland with a contempt of Congress citation for refusing to turn over recordings of President Joe Biden being interviewed by a Justice Department special counsel about classified documents found at his home.

“Many Americans believe there’s now a double standard of our justice system,” Jordan said.

Jordan and other Republicans said they needed to hear the recordings to determine whether Biden is fit to hold office.

On Monday, Jordan threatened to punish Garland and the Justice Department by withholding federal funding for a new FBI headquarters.

Garland, a former prosecutor and judge, said evidence gathered by the Justice Department could not always be reviewed by Congress because of the separation of government powers. He declined to answer several questions about cases the Justice Department is handling because of pending court proceedings.

He also said the contempt citation recommended by the House Judiciary and Oversight committees in May would not make him change his mind. 

“I will not be intimidated and the Justice Department will not be intimidated,” Garland said.

Other Republicans claimed the Justice Department sometimes retaliated against Biden administration adversaries.

Despite his repeated denials, Republicans insisted the state court conviction last week in New York of former President Donald Trump and pending federal prosecutions of Trump and former members of his presidential administration told a different story.

“You’re making the justice system political,” said Rep. Barry Moore, R-Ala.

Garland answered that allegations of political motives behind the prosecution and conviction of Trump on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records were based on “false claims.” The charges were filed by a New York district attorney, not the Justice Department, he said.

The separate federal charges are pending in Florida and Washington, D.C.

“That conspiracy theory is an attack on the judicial process itself,” Garland said.

Democrats were more conciliatory, sometimes thanking Garland for pursuing antitrust lawsuits against big corporations and aggressively prosecuting drug cartel members.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said Republicans’ allegations against Garland were compelled by their anger over their presumed nominee for president, namely Trump, facing possible prison sentences.

“These Republicans don’t care about what’s best for the American people,” Nadler said. “They just care about getting their favorite felon back into the White House.”

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