The House voted to hold Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress back in December. But the Justice Department has not yet taken action on that criminal referral, and members of the Jan. 6 select committee are getting irritated. The committee only has so much time to investigate a violent insurrection, given that it is a midterm election year, and yet the Justice Department, under Attorney General Merrick Garland, does not appear to consider this an urgent issue.
“It is important for the department to act and to act with alacrity for the principal reason that we're trying to prevent another Jan. 6,” Rep. Adam Schiff told reporters on Tuesday. He added, “Those who push the big lie that led to violence continue to push that big lie. So we feel a sense of urgency and we hope the [DOJ] does also. To me, these cases … are pretty clear cut in that two of the witnesses simply refused to appear. So it shouldn't be that difficult for the [DOJ] to act.”
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Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the select committee, took the same tone, telling reporters, “We're not a criminal body—we are just looking for the facts and circumstances around January 6 but in the course of that review, there are some very troubling things that we've come upon that we think if [the DOJ] would take a look at it, there would be something there.” Thompson noted that the select committee simply doesn’t know what the Justice Department is or isn’t doing on this, saying, “We don't have any knowledge that they are, but we don't have any knowledge that they are not.”
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By contrast, Rep. Jamie Raskin thinks the Justice Department should be free to work as slowly and hesitantly as it chooses.
“I feel strongly that we restore the tradition of respect for the independence of the law enforcement function,” he said. “That was one of the things that got trashed during the Trump period. And so I think that Congress and the president should let the Department of Justice and the attorney general do their job… Attorney General Garland is my constituent and I don't beat up on my constituents.”
The difference is that Trump was using the Justice Department as his own personal law firm, for his personal interests, with careers very clearly on the line where officials stood up to Trump. No one is asking for that. The ask is for the Justice Department to respond to a referral from Congress in a timely fashion in defense of U.S. democracy.
The Justice Department has indicted Steve Bannon following the House vote on holding him in contempt of Congress, but with two more key contempt votes coming up—for Trump aides Dan Scavino and Peter Navarro—the agency is going to need to get moving or be responsible for the select committee’s inability to complete its investigation.
Mark Meadows held in contempt of Congress
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