Attorney General Merrick Garland, the media insists, is handling the unprecedented criminal investigation into the events of January 6 with a calm, objective professionalism and is above reproach. The former federal prosecutor who sat on the D.C. appellate court for 25 years is somehow beyond the rising temperatures in Washington’s political pressure cooker and remains nonplussed by the January 6 drama produced on an hourly basis on Capitol Hill.
To some degree, the media is correct about the attorney general’s detachment. Garland is to the Justice Department what Joe Biden is to the White House—a lost old man installed in office to give a grandfatherly-like disguise to the malicious puppet masters in control of his teleprompter. In Garland’s case, as the New York Times recently confirmed and American Greatness has reported for months, the real authority lies in the vengeful hands of Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, a longtime Obama loyalist.
But the carefully crafted hagiography portraying Garland as independent of the partisan machinations of U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and company came crumbling down this week.
In response to a question from CNN correspondent Evan Perez—who helped launch the Trump-Russia collusion hoax narrative—Garland made clear the Justice Department is paying close attention to the January 6 committee’s made-for-TV performances. “I am watching and I will be watching all the hearings although I may not be able to watch all of it live but I’ll be sure, I’ll be watching all of it. And I can assure that the January 6 prosecutors are watching all the hearings as well,” Garland said with a smile.
Now, had the committee abided by its originating legislation and allowed even a hint of fair play, Garland’s comments might be considered noncontroversial. That, however, is not the case—and recent moves by Garland’s Justice Department indicate the agency is working closely with House Democrats to add a legal imprimatur to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) latest anti-Trump witch hunt.
Two of the four criminal referrals sent to the Justice Department by the committee resulted in contempt of Congress charges for close Trump advisors Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, who was arrested by the FBI at Reagan National Airport on June 6 in a public display of government force.
The prosecutors presumably watching the series of January 6 public hearings this month include Graves and his growing roster of government lawyers. Three days before the committee’s primetime debut last Thursday, Graves announced a new indictment against five members of the Proud Boys on rare charges of seditious conspiracy; the committee’s performance that night just happened to largely focus on the activities of the Proud Boys before and on January 6.
Although the indictment contained virtually no new information, it created wall-to-wall headlines intended to pique interest in a subject that, for most Americans, long ago ceased to be interesting. Similarly, the arrest of Ryan Kelley, a leading Republican candidate for governor of Michigan, was conveniently timed to occur just hours before last Thursday’s January 6 network extravaganza. It’s clear in the criminal complaint against Kelley that the government knew as early as late January 2021 of Kelley’s nonviolent involvement in the Capitol protest. But prosecutors waited for a politically expedient moment more than 17 months later to announce charges against him.
It is no surprise, then, that the same folks who considered any Republican criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation a grave offense against Constitutional “norms” now cheer the flagrant cooperation between the executive branch—conducting an unprecedented criminal investigation into the Capitol protest now totaling more than 830 defendants—and the legislative branch, conducting another targeted operation against Trump and his supporters. The fact that the same political party runs both of these branches of government right now is of no concern to the self-proclaimed boundary-keepers in the national news media.
Nor does it appear to concern federal judges responsible for protecting the rights of January 6 defendants. Faced with the nearly nonexistent prospect of receiving a fair trial in a city that voted 93 percent for Joe Biden in 2020, D.C. District Court judges are downplaying the obvious conflicts posed by the public work of the January 6 committee at the same time trials proceed in the nation’s capital. And defense lawyers who argue the mid-September release of the committee’s report, currently on sale at Amazon, will further poison an already highly-biased jury pool with a demonstrated level of prejudice against Capitol protesters have been lambasted by Beltway judges.
“Even if Congress is on the steps of the courthouse reading the [final] report, I am not moving the September trial,” Judge Amit Mehta recently warned lawyers representing members of the Oath Keepers. Mehta, an Obama appointee, has delayed scheduled trials deep into 2022 after the Justice Department added new defendants and charges in the case. (In another political move, following criticism Garland had not charged anyone with an “insurrection” type crime a year after the protest, Graves’ office filed seditious conspiracy charges against 13 Oath Keepers on January 13, 2022.)
The chief judge of the D.C. District Court just suggested that the congressional proceedings could help those facing trial. “This might be the best time for defendants charged with offensive conduct on January 6 inside the Capitol building to be having their trials, when the House select committee is laying out a scenario—I’m surmising from what they’re anticipating—that the persons accountable are the former president and his close associates, and that they had been planning this for weeks prior to January 2021,” Beryl Howell said to a defense attorney during a hearing this week. “Why isn’t that theme actually helpful to this defendant, making him seem like a small cog in bigger political machinations happening behind the scenes?”
While Howell astonishingly concludes the hearings will be an advantage to Trump supporters, other judges see no issue at all. Judge Timothy Kelly, the presiding judge in the Proud Boys case, rejected the idea the government filed seditious conspiracy charges to coincide with the January 6 committee’s hearing last week.
“What they do is . . . beyond the power of anyone around our table or our ability to effect,” Kelly told defense attorneys last week according to coverage by New York Times reporter Alan Feuer. “You do not want the chocolate of one in the peanut butter of the other,” Kelly said in an odd attempt to shrug off criticism that the government is mixing politics and criminal prosecutions.
But Kelly was forced to eat those words during another hearing Thursday afternoon, which took place at the same time as yet another January 6 committee hearing just a few blocks away. Graves’ office asked Kelly to move the Proud Boys trial date from August to December 2022 as the government awaits receipt of 1,000 witness transcripts from the January 6 committee.
“The timing of the anticipated release will prejudice the ability of all parties to prepare for trial because the parties are currently unable to account for the content of those transcripts with respect to their respective cases,” one of the lead prosecutors wrote in a June 16 motion. (The committee has indicated it does not want to turn over all its work to the Justice Department.)
If the trial is moved and Judge Kelly once again refuses to release several Proud Boys incarcerated under his pretrial detention orders, some will be behind bars almost two years before they have a chance to defend themselves in court.
As the media and federal judges ignore or even cheer the unprecedented collaboration between the Justice Department and Congress to target political foes of the regime, the rights of hundreds of Trump-supporting Americans are systematically destroyed.
And Merrick Garland is watching it all—with a smile.