The January 6 committee is certainly keeping busy these days. Whether it’s searching for missing portions of Trump’s call logs (that turned out to not actually be missing) or issuing subpoenas for anyone remotely connected to the former president, they’re always finding a way to suck up some air time at CNN and MSNBC. But we’re seeing signs that the work of the committee may be approaching the finish line. They still have some outstanding subpoenas and contempt of Congress cases to try to ram through, but there are indications that they may be ready to release at least some of their findings. How do we know? Because Democrats (plus two rogue Republicans) have begun calling on Attorney General Eric Garland to “do his job” and get ready to prosecute Donald Trump and anyone else who’s name can in any way be tied to the January 6, 2021 riot on Capitol Hill. How Garland is expected to do that at this stage of the game was not explained. (Associated Press)
Lawmakers investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol are increasingly going public with critical statements, court filings and more to deliver a blunt message to Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice.
President Donald Trump and his allies likely committed crimes, they say. And it’s up to you to do something about it.
“Attorney General Garland, do your job so we can do ours,” prodded Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia.
“We are upholding our responsibility. The Department of Justice must do the same,” echoed Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
— Rep. Elaine Luria (@RepElaineLuria) March 29, 2022
Judge David Carter issued a remarkable opinion.
Finding the former president may have committed a crime and fraud against the people of the United States.
If no one is above the law, then no one must be above the law.
Congress is doing its part. The DOJ must do the same. pic.twitter.com/cyDlyoD08R
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 29, 2022
What the committee has been relying on thus far is a lot of headlines without much underlying substance. For example, this week some of the members cited a judge in California (a Clinton appointee) who wrote that it is “more than likely than not” that Donald Trump committed some sort of crime related to the January 6 events. You’ll notice that no evidence is offered and no specific crime is specified. It’s not really even a suggestion that there is a charge available to file. It’s just “more likely than not.”
It’s also worth asking precisely what the committee members expect Garland to be doing right now. Yes, they referred the two contempt of Congress findings I mentioned above, so he could probably work on those if he felt like it. But the committee hasn’t turned in one thing suggesting specific charges against Trump. What is Garland supposed to do? Just wing it?
Everyone expects the committee to come up with some sort of charges that they want to see brought against the former president. It’s really just about the only thing they have going for them at the moment, particularly with the midterms approaching. There is no good news coming from the Biden administration for Democrats to run on, so all they can do is try to keep Trump’s name in the headlines. What else do they have to talk about?
Unfortunately, as even the AP report admits, Garland is in a tight spot here. Everyone already viewed the Attorney General’s office as being highly politicized during the Trump years, particularly with all of the scuffles revolving around Hillary Clinton. Going after Trump (who never came close to the Capitol Building on that day and even said during his speech that he knew people were going to “peacefully protest” at the building) is clearly going to be seen as a political maneuver against a politician they hate.
It will likely raise another unpleasant specter. As the linked report reminds us, more than 750 people have been charged with federal crimes over the January 6 riot and the Justice Department has been going after them aggressively. But there were other federal buildings that were attacked and burned or otherwise damaged over the past couple of years in different riots, particularly in Washington and Oregon. Those rioters also interfered with or “threatened” the democratic process when they shut down courthouses for months. And yet almost all of the BLM rioters have been ignored or, at most, hit with misdemeanor charges that were later dismissed.
Is this the legacy that Garland wants to leave behind when he’s done with his stint at the Justice Department? Vendettas against political opponents and favoritism based on ideological bias? He’ll probably feel obligated to try to do something to pacify the committee, but he may have a very hard time getting anything to grow in that soil.