Merrick Garland has been taking a significant amount of heat for well over a year for his response to the attack on our nation’s Capitol in January 2021.
The decisions facing Garland right now are as momentous as those Abraham Lincoln faced as State after State seceded from the Union. It’s as significant as those Franklin Roosevelt dealt with as he provided war supplies to allied nations while public sentiment at home was to stay out of Europe’s war. Likewise, there were some who saw John F. Kennedy’s reaction to Soviet missiles in Cuba and considered them reckless…
Every important man and woman in history has suffered more than their fair share of criticism in the moment. Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy were all constantly barraged by accusations that they were incompetent fools who were leading this nation to it’s destruction. Every one of them was second guessed every step of the way.
History is easiest to understand in hindsight. Yet we all know that even in this day and age disparate groups can look back at history and reach completely different conclusions. So, it’s no surprise that there are a wide range of opinions regarding the Attorney General’s job performance.
Some of you may have noticed that I have a low tolerance for the negativity Garland has been receiving on a constant daily basis around here. My frustration likely stems from the fact that, in my opinion, Merrick Garland is the just the man for the moment in history he’s dealing with. Your mileage may vary...
Lawfare Blog’s editor in chief, Benjamin Wittes has tackled the many criticisms being lobbed at the Attorney General and the Department of Justice… In a comprehensive article: “In Defense of the Justice Department” published yesterday he uses a bit of history to better put the current situation into proper perspective. Due to fair use I can only share what I believe to be the heart of his argument...
One way to assess the department’s actual performance is to ask yourself the following question: Given what Garland has said about the probe and the way we know complex federal investigations work, and given the specific complexities of this probe in particular, what would we have expected an aggressive investigation to look like had we been asked to forecast the matter when Garland became attorney general?
Before you answer, keep in mind that the so-called Watergate Seven—the top aides to President Nixon—were not indicted until March 1974, almost two years after the Watergate break-in took place. Nixon, for his part, was still unindicted at the time of his pardon more than two years and three months after the crime. The Watergate Special Prosecution Force did not wrap up its work until 1977, fully five years after the break-in and nearly three years after Nixon left office. And Watergate, let’s recall, involved a far less complicated fact pattern than Jan. 6, one with only a tiny fraction of the number of potential witnesses and defendants.
So what would we have hoped to see had we imagined an aggressive investigation a year and a half ago? We would have wanted to see a large and ever-growing number of indictments. We would have wanted to see charges getting more serious over time and indictments involving defendants ever-higher up in the investigative food chain. We would have wanted to see evidence of investigative activity involving people within the political echelon—not just rioters and riot organizers. And we would have wanted to see evidence that as new fact patterns come into focus regarding that political echelon, the investigation locks in on them.
In other words, the investigation in practice looks almost exactly like what we would have expected it to look like if prosecutors were taking this activity very seriously and methodically working their way up the chain.
Call me a dick all you want; but your fears, concerns, and frankly unrealistic expectations mean absolutely squat from an historical perspective. As I mentioned above Mr. Wittes addresses each an every one of the criticisms levied against the Attorney General in his post. I highly recommend reading it in it’s entirety…
Merrick Garland has a long and storied career which I’m not going to summarize here. You have Google and Wikipedia at your disposal if you wish to know more. My purpose here is to reiterate what I’ve been saying for well over a year…
The DOJ is facing “the most complex investigation ever.”
It's a uniquely daunting task.
The bashing of Merrick Garland needs to stop.
The Attorney General’s got this.
Bashing the man does no good.
The DOJ investigation of Trump is well under way.
Obstruction by Trump and his cronies is hampering it.
Justice does not necessarily mean prison for Donald Trump.
I hate to imagine what an Attorney General like Bill Barr would do in Garland’s situation… Imagine someone without Garland’s decades in public service and the law... Imagine the grandstanding for personal glory, the manipulation of the law to achieve a desired outcome, fealty to their political bosses…
No, Sir! No thank you… Give me a mild mannered, deliberative, milquetoast civil servant with no chip on his shoulder or reputation to stroke… A man of justice who has a job to do and knows just how to get it done and done right. A man who embodies his place in history.
Again, your mileage may vary. Second guessing AG Garland is your constitutional right. Just remember, I’ll likely push back and... admittedly, at times that may seem acerbic. Oh well…