Republicans point to number of times Garland has politicized the Justice Department
Rep. Jim Jordan spoke to the Washington Examiner about the Garland school boards memo controversy, saying: “My gut tells me that the main focus was this was politics. And that's what the Justice Department has been under Garland.”
He added: “Joe Biden criticizes the Georgia election law, a few months later they sue Georgia. Joe Biden criticizes the Texas pro-life law. Eight days later, they sure Texas. Joe Biden’s White House is working with the National School Boards Association … and, five days later, he issues the memorandum.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, echoed this theme, telling Garland: “Since your confirmation, in less than a year, the department has moved as far left as it can go” and that “you’ve politicized the department in ways it shouldn’t be.”
Garland has repeatedly denied politicizing the DOJ.
When announcing his Garland pick in January, Biden said: “More than anything, we need to restore the honor, the integrity, the independence of the Department of Justice in this nation that has been so badly damaged.”
Garland himself vowed in his February opening statement to enforce “policies that protect the independence of the Department from partisan influence in law enforcement Investigations."
Republicans say he isn’t living up to that promise.
DOJ targeting protesting parents
Garland's early October directive to the FBI was released a few days after the National School Boards Association argued to Biden that “the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes” and called upon DOJ to review whether the PATRIOT Act “in regards to domestic terrorism” could be deployed.
Garland revealed DOJ and the White House communicated about the NSBA letter before he issued his memo , and emails from the NSBA showed it was in touch with the White House prior to publishing. NSBA ended up withdrawing and apologizing for the letter.
House Republicans say an FBI whistleblower email shows the agency is using "counterterrorism tools" to monitor threats against school board members and teachers, which the GOP says conflicts with testimony by Garland.
An FBI spokesperson told the Washington Examiner: “The FBI has never been in the business of investigating parents who speak out or policing speech at school board meetings."
GOP lawmakers and concerned parents have also raised concerns about possible conflicts of interest for the attorney general because his son-in-law, Alexander “Xan” Tanner, is the co-founder of the education company Panorama Education .
Helping out Andrew McCabe
Garland said the department continues to stand by the findings of the DOJ watchdog that concluded fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe lied under oath to investigators during a leak investigation — despite Garland reversing his firing and settling McCabe's lawsuit against the DOJ with a payout.
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report in 2018 detailed multiple instances in which McCabe “lacked candor” with FBI Director James Comey, FBI investigators, and inspector general investigators about his authorization to leak sensitive information to the media.
Yet, Garland allowed McCabe to win back his full pension last month as part of the settlement in his wrongful termination lawsuit. The agreement allowed McCabe to retire and receive an estimated $200,000 in missed pension payments and $539,000 in attorney’s fees for his lawyers.
Garland was questioned by Grassley about this, who called DOJ's actions "beyond incredible."
“The McCabe settlement was the recommendation of the career lawyers litigating that case based on their prospects of success in the case,” the attorney general said. “The case did not involve issues about lying. It involved a claim that he was not given the amount of time necessary to respond to allegations. The litigators concluded that they needed to settle the case because of the likelihood of loss on that claim.”
Grassley lamented that “you allowed a disgraced former FBI official off the hook."
McCabe has denied wrongdoing, but Horowitz said he stood by his findings.
Trump tax documents
The DOJ ruled in July that Trump’s tax records must be released to Congress, with an Office of Legal Counsel opinion stating that the Democrat-led House Ways and Means Committee's request “plainly serves legitimate legislative objectives, even if some individual legislators might have other reasons for wanting access to the information.”
House Democrats had sought eight years of the former president’s tax returns, though Trump successfully fought back on those efforts during his tenure.
Lawyers for Trump moved to block efforts to obtain his tax returns in August, blasting the push as a politically motivated attempt to harm him.
Contempt of Congress prosecution
Biden was asked in October if he believes the Justice Deparment should prosecute anyone who resists subpoenas from the Capitol riot select committee, which had committed to criminal contempt proceedings against former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, and Biden said, “I do, yes.”
In response to his comment, which seemingly clashed with a pledge Biden made to allow the DOJ to remain independent, DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley said, “The Department of Justice will make its own independent decisions in all prosecutions based solely on the facts and the law. Period. Full stop.”
When the House voted to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress in October for refusing to testify, the DOJ soon pursued charges against him, with a federal grand jury indicting him in November for two counts of contempt of Congress.
Garland said, “Since my first day in office, I have promised Justice Department employees that together we would show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law, and pursues equal justice under the law. Today's charges reflect the department's steadfast commitment to these principles."
Bannon pleaded not guilty to both counts.
Project Veritas and Ashley Biden’s diary
The FBI has conducted searches of at least two New York locations tied to the conservative investigative group Project Veritas and also searched the home of its founder James O’Keefe, reportedly in connection with the alleged theft of a diary belonging to Ashley Biden, the youngest daughter of the president.
A right-wing outlet published dozens of pages of the purported diary in October 2020. O’Keefe said earlier this month it had also been offered to his group, but they declined to publish it, attempted to return it, and provided it to law enforcement.
The Project Veritas founder told Fox News that the FBI took two of his iPhones, which had confidential donor and source information, and called the raids an "attack on the First Amendment.”
A judge ordered the New York Times to stop publishing information from internal memos taken from Project Veritas after the outlet published parts of sensitive conversations between Project Veritas operatives and their lawyers — which the group said should be protected under attorney-client privilege. The documents surfaced just days after federal authorities raided the home of O’Keefe.
Threatening states that pass voter integrity laws
The DOJ announced a lawsuit against Georgia in June over its new election laws, with Garland alleging the laws could restrict the rights of black Georgians. State officials have defended the measures as commonsense protections against fraud and have condemned claims from Democrats that they are “Jim Crow 2.0.”
"Our complaint alleges that recent changes to Georgia's election laws were enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act,” Garland said .
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp condemned the Justice Department's actions.
“This lawsuit is born out of the lies and misinformation the Biden administration has pushed against Georgia’s Election Integrity Act from the start," Kemp said, adding, "Now, they are weaponizing the U.S. Department of Justice to carry out their far-left agenda that undermines election integrity and empowers federal government overreach in our democracy.”
Fighting the Texas abortion law
Garland announced in September that the DOJ filed a lawsuit against Texas in response to a state law banning abortions after six weeks of gestation. Texas's Senate Bill 8 , also known as the Texas Heartbeat Act, prohibits abortion after that time frame unless a woman’s life is in danger. One provision permits any person to bring a civil action against anyone who performs an abortion procedure or “aids or abets” such a procedure after six weeks.
Garland said S.B. 8 is “clearly unconstitutional under long-standing Supreme Court precedent.”
Biden had directed the DOJ in September "to see what steps the federal government can take to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions."
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