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Merrick Garland Pushes Back
The Attorney General stands up for the DOJ and against Trump’s “unfounded attacks”—and moves to unseal the search warrant to enter Mar-a-Lago
Readers of America, America over the last year know that I’ve taken Attorney General Merrick Garland to task more than once for his pace of action and his reluctance to speak out against the metastasizing danger caused by the former White House occupant’s incitements. I’ve understood the commitment to building the strongest possible evidentiary case—be it about Jan. 6 or other criminal acts—but have worried that the more time passes the more the radical extremists and their elected allies in the Republican Party will be convinced that the rule of law should be ignored and political violence is the way forward.
Yesterday Merrick Garland had clearly decided he’s had enough with Donald Trump’s lies and recognized the need to push back against Trump’s exploitation of the FBI’s lawful search of Mar-a-Lago on Monday to politicize the event and incite triggered extremists. Garland organized a press event to make clear that he was not going to let his silence be used against him or the men and women who work for him.
“I personally approved the search warrant…the department does not take such a decision lightly,” he began, making clear who is in charge at the Department of Justice. “Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly without fear or favor.” Then he described what compelled him to speak: “Let me address the unfounded attacks on the professionalism of the FBI, Justice Department agents and prosecutors. I will not stand by when their integrity is unfairly attacked.”
It was Trump himself who made public the federal agents’ search on Monday, despite their obvious intention to keep a low profile by wearing plain clothes and arriving on a day when Trump was in New York. Unsurprisingly, Trump put out a statement that asserted this was an “unannounced raid”—even though agents arrived with a court-ordered search warrant with probable cause and we later learned that the Secret Service had been informed beforehand and two of Trump’s own lawyers were in the house while agents conducted their search for classified documents (and reportedly left with around 12 boxes).
“These are dark times for our Nation,” he began Monday, complaining that his “beautiful home” was “currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.” He insisted that this “assault could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries. Sadly, America has now become one of those Countries, corrupt at a level not seen before.” He had one more bomb to throw to frame this effort by the DOJ to retrieve illegally taken documents as a vicious political act: “It is prosecutorial misconduct, the weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024.”
This was all his sycophantic supporters in the GOP needed—without evidence—to blast off with their extreme rhetoric. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson railed against the FBI as the “gestapo” and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio called it political persecution comparable to “3rd world Marxist dictatorships.” Over at Fox, convicted felon Paul Manafort claimed “America is under attack,” frequent guest Dan Bongino insisted “we are into tinpot dictator third-world stuff” and host Sean Hannity promised that anyone who is a Trump ally “they’re coming for you with the full force of the federal government.”
After Trump’s statement, Maryland GOP nominee for governor, Dan Cox, called the search “rogue actions of this out of control tyrannical Biden administration” and “nothing short of communist Stasi police state tactics.” Arizona GOP nominee for governor, Kari Lake, took the moment to call the federal government “illegitimate” and “rotten to the core,” describe the search as “an abuse of power,” claim the event was “one of the darkest days in American history” and threaten secession.
Worst of all was House minority leader Kevin McCarthy who threatened the Attorney General and promised investigations of the DOJ if the GOP takes over after the midterms. “Attorney General Garland: preserve your documents and clear your calendar. I've seen enough,” he said. “The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization.”
It’s no wonder that extremist chat rooms were filled with threats of bloodshed and civil war or that a man armed with an AR-15 rifle fired a nail gun into an FBI field office in Cincinnati yesterday. Later killed by police officers, the man—who was at the US Capitol on Jan. 6— had reportedly posted on Truth Social about wanting to kill FBI agents after the search at Mar-a-Lago.
All this because the AG, the DOJ and the FBI sought to do their job. All this because Donald Trump not only thinks the law does not apply to him but exploits any efforts to hold him accountable as an opportunity to stir up his angry cult.
Until now, we’ve had reason to worry that the AG would be reluctant to act because he feared political fallout. His badass ninja appearance yesterday convinced me that he’s not going to take it anymore—that he recognizes what we’re up against. Yes, I wish he’d acted sooner, when it might have been easier to rein in the worst among us. That includes not waiting this long to retrieve the classified documents that were stolen from the White House and secreted off to Florida, especially given the latest reporting from the The Washington Post that among the documents the FBI was seeking were top-secret ones concerning nuclear weapons and national security. But here we are.
In a sign that Garland is determined to not let Trump get away with his continuing lies in the face of DOJ silence, he announced that the department filed a motion to unseal the search warrant—and gave Trump and his lawyers until 3PM this afternoon to provide any reason to oppose its release. His refusal to make this public would underline that he has something to hide—that Justice had to reclaim the stolen documents—and remind Trump’s enablers that trusting a pathological liar bent on saving his own skin is not the wisest political decision.
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