During the 2020 presidential election cycle, Matthew M. Graves donated $2,000 to the Biden-Harris campaign. The modest contribution was a no-brainer for Graves. Not only was he a domestic policy advisor for the campaign, he worked at the time for the same white-shoe law firm as Douglas Emhoff, Kamala Harris’ husband.
Graves’ kowtowing paid off. In November 2021, Graves took the helm of one of the most politically-charged U.S. attorneys office’s in the country: the District of Columbia.
Since then, Graves has escalated the pace and nature of the ongoing investigation into the events of January 6. His fixation on a four-hour disturbance that occurred more than 28 months ago has nothing to do with law and order and everything to do with using the full weight of the federal government to punish Americans who protested Biden’s election that afternoon.
At the same time, Graves, who is in the unique position of prosecuting both local and federal crimes in the nation’s capital, has allowed D.C. to descend into violent chaos.
Gun crimes and carjackings are skyrocketing: homicides are up nine percent over last year. Graves is under fire from community groups, police, and government leaders.
The House Oversight Committee will hear from Graves on Tuesday morning. Finally. Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) threatened to issue a subpoena after the Justice Department first refused to make Graves available for questions. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, departing D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee, and city administrator Kevin Donahue also are expected to testify.
But rather than press D.C. officials responsible for the lawlessness rampant in their city—important as that is—Republicans should instead use their time to confront Graves about his selective prosecution of January 6 defendants and force him to account for his actions publicly. The Biden regime’s double standard of justice runs directly through Graves’ office.
Here is a partial list of questions for committee members to consider:
1) Mr. Graves, the Washington Post recently reported that you have one of the highest, if not the highest, declination rates in the country. According to one site that tracks crime data in D.C., you have refused to prosecute two-thirds of all criminal cases brought to you by police—double what it was in 2015. You blame a lack of resources for refusing to prosecute repeat, violent offenders who threaten the security of the nation’s capital.
How many January 6 cases brought to you by the FBI over the past 28 months have you declined to prosecute?
2) Not only are you proceeding at full steam with January 6 cases, you told the Washington Post last year you planned to double the current caseload—currently more than 1,000 cases—to at least 2,000. What percentage of your office’s time is spent on January 6 cases versus the prosecution of local criminal cases?
3) In court documents, your office repeatedly refers to January 6 as a domestic terror attack. In some cases, you are asking for domestic terror enhancements at sentencing.
Terror attacks always involve the killing of innocent individuals. Mr. Graves, how many January 6 defendants are charged with murder? To continue that inquiry, how many are charged with using a firearm or bringing a firearm inside the building?
Explosives also are a common feature of terror attacks. Do you have an update on the pipe bombs found at the headquarters of both the RNC and DNC on January 6, which prompted the evacuation of adjacent House buildings and diverted law enforcement away from the Capitol?
4) In fact, Mr. Graves, most of the charges against Capitol protesters are misdemeanors, correct? According to your latest Capitol “attack” update, 80 percent of the plea deals you’ve extracted from January 6 defendants are for misdemeanor offenses.
The most common charge is “parading or picketing” in the Capitol, a petty offense almost always handled in the D.C. Superior Court that results in a ticket and minimal fine. But your office is asking for prison time from between 14 days and six months for plea deals or convictions for parading. Could you explain why you are departing from precedent?
5) Mayor Bowser said last week that she would propose legislation to reform the city’s pretrial detention policies for repeat offenders arrested for new crimes. In response, you said recent dialogue related to pretrial detention—meaning denied bail—“has been over how can we have more people released because they have not been convicted.”
But that isn’t the standard your office applies for those charged in the January 6 investigation, is it? You’ve demanded pretrial detention for dozens of Capitol protesters, the overwhelming majority of whom have no criminal record and some accused of committing no violent crime on January 6. A handful were in custody for nearly two years awaiting trials your office continued to delay.
How many January 6 defendants are currently behind bars under pretrial detention orders sought by your office?
6) On that note, you seek excessive prison sentences for January 6 defendants. For example, Thomas Caldwell is a decorated and disabled Navy veteran with no criminal history.
Mr. Caldwell was not charged with any violent crime on January 6. In fact, he never entered the Capitol Building. Nevertheless, you added a seditious conspiracy charge to his case shortly after taking office.
After a jury trial, Caldwell was convicted of one obstruction count and one count of tampering with evidence. Yet you’re asking the judge to sentence Mr. Caldwell, who’s nearly 70 years old, to 14 years in prison, a sentence usually reserved for violent criminals who harm other people.
Could you explain why you believe Thomas Caldwell deserves to die in jail?
7) In May and June 2020, rioters vandalized federal property and assaulted federal officers in Lafayette Square, a federal park across the street from the White House. According to the inspector general’s report, U.S. Park Police “reported that some protesters threw projectiles, such as bricks, rocks, caustic liquids, frozen water bottles, glass bottles, lit flares, rental scooters, and fireworks, at law enforcement officials. Overall, 49 Park Police officers were injured. The Secret Service also reported injuries to their personnel.”
The violence was so bad it prompted the lockdown of the White House.
Mr. Graves, are you still investigating damage to federal property and assaults on federal officers related to the riot at Lafayette Square? When was the last time your office charged a 2020 rioter for similar if not worse conduct than that of January 6 protesters?
8) In the statement furnished to the Senate prior to your confirmation, you disclosed pro bono work for a group called the National Women’s Law Center, a left-wing nonprofit based in D.C. The head of that group is Fatima Goss Graves. She is your wife, correct?
In addition to promoting issues aligned with the Democratic Party, your wife is part of the current crusade against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Last month, she participated in a press conference on Capitol Hill to demand Justice Thomas’ resignation.
Right before the 2020 election, her group donated $5,000 to the Women’s March to protest the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett and the reelection of Donald Trump.
After the election, she said this of the 55 percent of white women who voted for Trump: “White women who support Trump are not blindly voting against their own self-interest. These Trump supporters, aided by a toxic mix of racism and disinformation, seem to be consciously supporting what they believe to be their own group interest, putting them on the same team as the White men society has been largely built to benefit.”
Do you view your wife’s activism on behalf of the Democratic Party and disparaging comments about Trump supporters as a conflict of interest as you continue to use your office to charge and prosecute Trump supporters?
Four months after taking control of the House, Republicans are overdue in holding Biden officials publicly accountable for the most political and vengeful use of the Justice Department in history. Tuesday’s hearing is a ripe opportunity to turn the tables on Graves. Let’s hope they do.
Editor’s note: Victor Davis Hanson’s regular Monday column will appear tomorrow.