Five Republican senators sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday with a list of questions about discrepancies between the Justice Department’s handling of 2020 protesters and his office’s prosecution of January 6 protesters.
Senators Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) asked Garland to explain the “potential unequal justice administered in response to other recent instances of mass unrest, destruction, and loss of life throughout the United States.”
Without naming Antifa or Black Lives Matter—instead referring to the violence as “2020 social justice protests”—the senators pointed out that Garland’s prosecutors are dropping cases against Portland rioters while throwing the book at Capitol trespassers. “DOJ’s apparent unwillingness to punish these individuals who allegedly committed crimes during the spring and summer 2020 protests stands in stark contrast to the harsher treatment of the individuals charged in connection with the January 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C..”
As American Greatness has reported for months, dozens of people arrested in connection with the Capitol protest have been denied bail and held in solitary confinement conditions in a D.C. prison for months. The senators asked how many “Spring and Summer 2020 Unrest” protesters faced similar treatment. “How many of these individuals are or were placed in solitary confinement? What was the average amount of consecutive days such individuals were in solitary confinement?” They asked the same questions about January 6 protesters.
They also noted the Justice Department has a publicly-available website that lists all the January 6 defendants and their crimes while no such database exists for “Summer of Love” protesters. “Americans have the constitutional right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances. Violence, property damage, and vandalism of any kind should not be tolerated and individuals that break the law should be prosecuted. However, the potential unequal administration of justice with respect to certain protestors is particularly concerning.”
The group asked Garland to respond by June 21. It’s unclear whether he will. Senate Republicans have a demonstrably poor track record of getting any sort of action from various letter-writing efforts.
Last week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) sent Garland a similar letter with a list of questions about unequal treatment for Americans based on their political views. “The law must be applied equally without regard to party, power or privilege. When the Department of Justice treats similar criminal acts differently, such conduct erodes faith in our governmental institutions and the law.”
Nearly 500 people have been charged with offenses related to the January 6 protest with promises of more arrests to come. Garland said his top priority is the Capitol breach probe; the scuttled Supreme Court justice nominee considers the Capitol protest an act of domestic terrorism and compared the four-hour disturbance, which resulted in the death of an unarmed female veteran killed by an unidentified Capitol police officer, to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. That attack resulted in the deaths of 168 Americans including several children.