Time to Say "You're Fired" to Merrick Garland?

It’s time for the Biden administration to put someone in Merrick Garland’s position who will fight for our republic and the rule of law

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Raping women and then slandering them, beating protesters, and trying to overthrow the government are not normal parts of the job of President of the United States. But for reasons that seem entirely bizarre, Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice is operating as if they are.

Monday of this week (June 21) the Biden/Garland Justice Department defended Donald Trump against a lawsuit from the ACLU of DC and Black Lives Matter over the gassing and multiple violent assaults ordered by then-Attorney General Bill Barr to clear the area in front of St. John’s Church across from the White House so Trump could stand with a bible for a photo op.

The case went before U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of the District of Columbia, a multimillionaire former corporate lawyer vetted by the hard-right Federalist Society, who Trump appointed to a lifetime seat on court in November, 2017. (Last month, she struck down the CDC’s moratorium on evictions during the Covid crisis.) Friedrich ruled in Trump and Barr’s favor, throwing out most of the four different lawsuits against them.

Scott Michelman of the ACLU in DC said, “Today’s ruling essentially gives the federal government a green light to use violence, including lethal force, against demonstrators as long as federal officials claim to be protecting national security.”

The case could have been used to expose the details of Trump’s and Barr’s abuse of the “national security” rubric to attack BLM demonstrators they considered their political enemies.  Instead, there’s now no longer a basis for discovery and further investigation and so Trump and Barr get off scott-free after ordering people gassed and beaten.

Michelman added, correctly, “Under today’s decision, Lafayette Square is now a Constitution-free zone when it comes to the actions of federal officials. Not only is this decision a stunning rejection of our constitutional values and protesters’ First Amendment rights, but it effectively places federal officials above the law.”

But this decision might not have gone down the way it did if the Garland DOJ hadn’t chosen to defend Trump and Barr in the case.

It appears that Garland’s DOJ considers brutally assaulting peaceful demonstrators who are exercising their First Amendment “right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” is part of the normal and ordinary “job” of being POTUS and AG.

But that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  When a federal judge ordered on May 5th of this year that the entire Mueller Report – sans redactions – and two internal lawyer’s opinions justifying hiding much of the Report from America must be released to the public and Congress, Garland stalled and continues to stall to this day.

When Trump was president, lawyers with Barr’s DOJ looked into Mueller’s charges that Trump had committed multiple federal crimes attempting to collude with Russians and others to win the 2016 election, and decided that everything was just fine and Trump shouldn’t be charged with a crime after all.

One person who read the memos was U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who demanded their release.  In a scathing critique of Barr’s DOJ in this case, Judge Jackson asked rhetorically, “So why did the Attorney General’s advisors, at his request, create a memorandum that evaluated the prosecutive merit of the facts amassed by the Special Counsel?”

In the next sentence she answered her own question: “Lifting the curtain reveals the answer to that too: getting a jump on public relations.”

But the coverup Barr’s lawyers did “investigating” Trump and ruling he shouldn’t be charged is still being kept secret by Garland.

When journalist E. Jean Carroll accused Donald Trump of rape — and offered a semen-stained dress for a DNA test as evidence — and then sued him for slandering her, Merrick Garland’s Justice Department chose to follow Barr’s lead and defend Donald Trump.

“Speaking to the public and the press on matters of public concern is undoubtedly part of an elected official’s job,” the Garland DOJ wrote in defense of their decision to stand with Trump instead of his victim.

They tried to dress it up with a bit of legal BS, adding that, “Courts have thus consistently and repeatedly held that allegedly defamatory statements made in that context are within the scope of elected officials’ employment — including when the statements were prompted by press inquiries about the official’s private life.”

In other words, Garland argued that Trump was just doing what every president does when he said that he wouldn’t have raped E. Jean Carroll because she “wasn’t his type” and called her a liar.

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee wrote an angry letter to Garland saying, “Survivors of sexual assault, among other victims, deserve better,” but Garland apparently believes raping and then slandering women is a normal and ordinary part of the job of POTUS.

And now Reuters is reporting that, using this same rationale that when a president breaks the law they’re just doing their job, the Garland Justice Department is preparing to again defend Donald Trump against lawsuits, including one from Congressman Eric Swalwell, alleging Trump incited a riot at the Capitol on January 6th and attempted to overthrow the government of the United States.

Attorney Joseph Sellers, representing one of the Members of Congress in their lawsuit against Trump, put it plainly. “I don’t think anyone would think it’s within the scope of the president’s legitimate duties to encourage people to interfere with the functioning of another branch of government.  He was promoting an insurrection and a riot.”

Meanwhile, Arizona Republicans and the “contractor” they hired, who previously ran a one-man post-office-box business out of Florida and is apparently a Qanon follower, are openly in violation of federal law requiring ballots and voting machines be secured for 22 months after an election. Garland’s DOJ sent them a strongly-worded letter “expressing concern,” but it’s been crickets ever since and the AZ GOP’s federal crime is ongoing.

It would be easy to dismiss this behavior by the Garland DOJ as something that just slipped through the cracks, a theory that was offered by Garland’s defenders early on, given that the DOJ has tens of thousands of employees and is still well-stocked with Trump appointees and far-right Republicans. Maybe this just slipped past him when he wasn’t looking?

That theory was blown to bits when Garland went before Congress on June 9th and, to the obvious astonishment of former US Attorney and current Senator Patrick Leahy, defended just these types of positions.

When Richard Nixon’s Attorney General, John Mitchell, used his position to cover up Nixon’s multiple crimes, he was convicted of conspiracy, perjury and obstruction of justice, ending up in federal prison.

When Bill Clinton was accused of criminal activity by Paula Jones, a case that led to his impeachment when discovery showed his relationship with Monica Lewinsky and he lied about it, the Attorney General didn’t defend him; his private legal team was so costly that he didn’t finally raise enough money to pay off their bill until 2005.

Nobody suggested that breaking into the DNC headquarters and lying about it, or having sex with Monica and lying about it were normal parts of Nixon’s or Clinton‘s job as president. Similar criminal activity subverting elections and attacking women wasn’t a “normal” part of Trump’s job as president, either.

The majority of Americans want Trump held accountable for his multiple crimes against our democracy, from working with foreign oligarchs to get elected to crimes against women to trying to overthrow our government when he lost. It’s time for the Biden administration to put someone in Merrick Garland’s position who will fight for our republic and the rule of law.

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