During a House Oversight Committee hearing on Tuesday, Representative Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-Ga.) submitted articles of impeachment against Matthew M. Graves, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. Graves, appointed by Joe Biden in October 2021, testified alongside top D.C. officials as to the city’s rampant crime problem.
“In his conduct as United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend, the Constitution of the United States, Matthew M. Graves continues to materially endanger the justice system of the United States and empower violent criminals to terrorize Washington, D.C.,” the resolution stated. “Matthew M. Graves, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to the justice system of the United States of America if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.”
Crime in the nation’s capital has skyrocketed on Graves’ watch; he is the only U.S. attorney responsible for prosecuting both local and federal cases. According to police data, Graves chose not to prosecute 67 percent of cases brought to his office by police. That figure is in stark contrast to the 26 percent declination rate by the D.C. Attorney General, who handles juvenile offenses and misdemeanors in the district.
Lawlessness is so out-of-control that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who also testified Tuesday morning, hosted a public safety summit last week to address residents’ outrage. While defending his office’s work, Graves explained his prosecutors won’t proceed with a case if they believe evidence is lacking or a suspect’s constitutional rights were violated. “We are never, ever going to charge people if we think it violates our ethical obligations to do so.”
That, however, is not Graves’ approach to defendants ensnared in the Justice Department’s selective, political prosecution of Americans who protested Joe Biden’s election more than 28 months ago. His prosecutors routinely seek pretrial detention for first-time offenders including those not accused of a violent crime. Graves successfully argues against moving January 6 trials out of D.C. despite his office’s near-perfect conviction rate in jury trials and a jury pool of nearly 100 percent Democratic voters.
Shortly after taking the reins of the office, Graves charged numerous defendants with seditious conspiracy, a Civil-War era statute rarely used against American citizens. He seeks excessive prison sentences for those who accepted plea offers or been convicted in court; for example, he is asking for a 14-year prison sentence for Thomas Caldwell, a decorated and disabled Navy veteran recently convicted of two nonviolent offenses for his participation in the Capitol protest. (Caldwell, 68, never entered the building.) Graves essentially wants Caldwell, a man with no criminal record, to die in jail.
Graves’ fixation on the events of January 6, 2021 undoubtedly is contributing to his office’s high declination rate. “Graves said the office temporarily had resources stretched thin in recent years, though some of those problems had abated,” the Washington Post reported in March. “After the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, he said his office temporarily pulled about 15 prosecutors and staffers from D.C. Superior Court cases to focus on prosecuting the federal cases. Graves said all of those staffers have since returned to D.C. Superior Court side or their positions have been filled by other prosecutors.”
In the 2023 omnibus spending bill, the Justice Department received an additional $34 million for costs related to “the January 6, 2021 insurrection that disrupted a Joint Session of the U.S. Congress.” Dozens of temporary lawyers will be hired to manage the growing January 6 caseload; Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco admitted assistant U.S. attorneys from other offices across the country have been reassigned to Graves’ office to handle the 1,000+ defendants, a figure Graves’ warned will double before he’s finished.
“Instead of preventing prosecuting these crimes, Graves’s office has hired more attorneys solely to prosecute more than 1,000 individuals who have been arrested for political protest or touring the U.S. Capitol. United States Attorney Graves has perversely and unconstitutionally sought lengthy pretrial detention for dozens of these political opponents, including individuals not accused of committing any violence. In doing so, Graves is systematically criminalizing political dissent.”
Greene’s resolution will be sent to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.