Attorney General Merrick Garland faced a largely hostile Republican host of representatives when he appeared before Congress’ Judiciary Committee hearing. He was grilled on several issues — the investigation into Hunter Biden and the indictments against former President Donald Trump, among others.
Republicans have long expressed cynicism about the current AG, implying that he is firmly in the pocket of the Democrats and the president. However, his actions seem to demonstrate a degree of independence from the administration. Still, many GOP members likely need more convincing.
Garland repeatedly stated that he did not interfere in any determination on the investigation into the business dealings of Hunter Biden, contrary to claims by IRS whistleblowers in the past that the investigation into the younger Biden’s tax payment anomalies was ruined by political machinations.
“I’m going to say again, and again, if necessary, I did not interfere with, did not investigate, did not make determinations” in the Hunter Biden case, he said. He also made a strong opening statement when he told lawmakers that, “I am not the president’s lawyer. I will also add that I am not Congress’ prosecutor.”
Republicans and Democrats used their opportunity to speak to grandstand – conservatives on the supposed bias of the Justice Department in favor of president Biden and his family, with liberals declaring the opposite. Garland largely remained mum on the performance of Special Counsel Jack Smith, even after repeated criticisms of the latter from the GOP. Garland also pointed out that another special counsel, David Weiss, who is in charge of the investigation into Hunter Biden, was appointed by Trump. Weiss also began his investigation – at Trump’s behest – into the president’s son in 2018, way before Joe Biden was elected president.
“I promised the Senate when I came before it for confirmation that I would leave Mr. Weiss in place and that I would not interfere with his investigation,” the AG said.
When asked whether, as claimed by many Republicans, Trump included, that he was instructed by Biden to indict the former commander-in-chief, the AG responded that he never received any such instruction, and that the decision to indict Trump was made by Smith.
Relationship With Biden in “Deep Freeze”
Some observers have also reported that sources from inside the White House are saying that Biden and his administration are souring on Garland, especially given the fact that Hunter Biden now has an indictment over gun charges. Sources told the Wall Street Journal that the White House’s feelings on Garland are resignation and distrust.
Regardless, Garland’s situation parallels somewhat with that of former AG Bill Barr, once seen as a stalwart Trump ally, who then became an independent operator who claimed to follow the law rather than the dictates of the administration in power. As Garland summed up in his closing remarks to the Congressional committee:
“I just again, I want to assure the American public and this committee that the Justice Department follows the rule of law. It enforces the law equally without regard to persons and without regard to parties, and that we do the best we can to follow the facts and the law,” Garland said in closing.
About the Author
Tim Ramos has written for various publications, corporations, and organizations – covering everything from finance, politics, travel, entertainment, and sports – in Asia and the U.S. for more than 10 years.