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Former US Attorney: Garland Critics Are 'Silly'

Jan 6, 2022

People in the twitterverse are losing their goddamned minds over Attorney General Merrick Garland's speech today, and I just want to smack all of them. I know Twitter is not real life, but they're also about to go on all the airwaves of the cables and the podcasts and trashtalk Garland and his DOJ for "doing nothing" and "moving too slow" on the largest, most complex, most important investigation in our nation's history. An investigation upon which might possibly rest — not being hyperbolic, here — the fate of the democracy.

"Instant Gratification" Twitter, "Do Something!" Twitter, and "Hysteria for Clicks" Twitter needs to ask themselves if they'd rather Garland rush the investigation, leave an end untied, and trip over it to have it overturned on appeal. They need to ask themselves which attorney general in the past has done a better job investigating and prosecuting an insurrection of thousands on the Capitol that was quelled in a matter of hours, wherein the vast majority of the insurrectionists were allowed to go home and sleep in their own beds that night rather than be arrested.

I understand the urgency. I understand the stakes. I, too, feel the visceral need to see the entire Trump family perp-walked to federal lock up, or hell, the Hague. But I also understand that we cannot possibly know what the people inside the investigation know, and that that is exactly how it is supposed to work.

Garland said, "The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law — whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead." He mentioned Watergate. He spoke of voting rights. He explained how these investigations work. Barb McQuade explained that while this was technically a speech to DOJ employees, it wasn't really for them — it was for us. They know how this works. And she thinks Garland told us a mouthful.

"Well, I heard him to be saying that they are looking at everybody to the highest levels that may be possible here. That could include President Trump, though of course I never expected Merrick Garland to say so out loud," McQuade told Hallie Jackson. "I think the mere fact that he had this press conference and detailed all of those details about how they work cases, and the men and women in the department know that. He's speaking clearly to the American people. And responding to the criticism of, 'What is taking so long, why aren't you doing anything about the highest levels about the people at the White House?'"

She continued, "I think he's saying, 'We start small and work our way up, and that is prudent to do, that's the way that we do it. But let me assure you, we are not gonna stop at just those people who were inside that day. We're looking even at people who weren't there that day, anyone who could be held criminally responsible who was involved in this attack.'"

McQuade said the "strength of his words" suggests "he gets it" and "they're on the job." Her resumé includes teaching law at University of Michigan Law School, and being a U.S. attorney prosecuting national security cases. I'll take her word.

Jackson listed the investigation's status, including the numbers of defendants (700+), subpoenas and warrants (5,000+), devices siezed (2,000+), hours of video footage (20,000+), so far.

She told Chuck Rosenberg, "And yet there have been complaints coming from House Democrats that Garland is not moving fast enough. Congressman Ruben Gallego said that the attorney general was weak. I spoke with Congressman Adam Schiff on this show 24 hours ago, who was frustrated about this, too."

Then Jackson asked him, "Chuck, do you believe that one year in, or should we say 364 days in, that this investigation by the Department of Justice is about where you would expect it to be?"

Allow me to interject: No, we should not say a year, or even 364 days. Merrick Garland wasn't sworn into office until March 11, 2021. That is fewer than ten months, so stop saying he's had a year. If you think that's being pedantic, let's see what the investigation's numbers are two months from now, and who has been subpoenaed at that point.

Rosenberg, however, focused on Garland's critics.

"Well, I actually think, Hallie, they're moving rather rapidly," said Rosenberg. "I think criticism that they're not moving quickly enough is silly."

He elaborated, "I mean they've charged 725 people in under a year. As I mentioned before, they have 300,000 tips to work through and 15 terabytes of data. Also, we don't know what they're doing behind the scenes."

Then he explained why Garland is proceeding exactly as he should be. "Because he's saying, 'We're on it. We're working. Be patient. Justice takes time.' The worst thing you could do, Hallie, is rush to charge somebody. You have to charge when you have the requisite facts and the law supports the charge, when you could bring a case in court, and you can win it, and sustain it on appeal. And that takes time."

If Chuck Rosenberg called me "silly" I'd be embarrassed and ashamed. He is the calmest, sanest, and easily one of the most knowledgable people on the planet when it comes to prosecuting cases in this nation. He headed the Drug Enforcement Agency, spent years as a U.S. Attorney, was a top official in the FBI, and was chief of staff to a Deputy Attorney General of the United States.

If Chuck Rosenberg tells me to calm the f*ck down, I'm gonna calm the f*ck down.

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