Attorney General Merrick Garland and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have come under sharp pressure from Democrats on the way they are leading their respective departments. In Yellen’s case, it has been her foot dragging on “reworking,” as she put it, harsh U.S. sanctions on Cuba that were imposed by Donald Trump. In June, Yellen told the House Appropriations Committee that Treasury was “reviewing” Cuba sanctions. That is where she left it and no loosening of Cuba travel or trade restrictions have occurred so far this year.
Garland has been non-committal on whether his department will indict former Trump strategic advisor Steve Bannon for contempt of Congress. Bannon, who has emerged as a key propagandist for the January 6th insurrection, before and after it took place, snubbed a subpoena to testify before the House Select Committee on January 6th.
Garland’s team of line prosecutors have also been dishing out light sentences to those found guilty of storming and seizing the Capitol while the Senate and House of Representatives were certifying the 2020 presidential election. Short prison sentences, home confinement, and liberal travel movements have been the rule of the day for the seditionists already convicted or those awaiting trial. In two egregious cases, individuals arrested for laying siege to the Capitol have been permitted to go on vacation in Mexico and travel out-of-state to attend an NFL football game. This kid glove treatment by Garland’s department has led to frustration among Democratic representatives and senators seeking a full accounting for the violent January 6th siege that led to deaths among U.S. Capitol Police and the pro-Trump mob.
Garland had also shielded Trump from a defamation lawsuit by E. Jean Carroll, a New York writer who alleges that Trump raped her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman’s in Manhattan in the 1990s. Garland has upheld the decision by his predecessor, Trump personal consigliere William Barr, that Trump, as a federal employee at the time, could not be sued by Carroll. During a recent hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, Garland defended his decision to protect Trump from Carroll’s lawsuit, saying that as attorney general or a judge means “taking positions with respect to the law that are required by the law which you would not take as a private citizen.”
Garland has also continued to invoke the provisions of the “Barr Memo.” Barr determined that Trump could not be indicted for anything contained in the report by former FBI director Robert Mueller his Special Counsel investigation of Russian interference on behalf of the Trump campaign in the 2016 election. Moreover, Garland has continued to keep the Barr Memo secret.
Garland’s actions have worried some Democrats on the House Select Committee, including House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA). Other Democrats have pointedly asked Garland why John Durham—the special counsel appointed by Barr. Durham continues to have a free rein to politically pursue Democratic opponents of Trump, including the Clintons and Michael Sussmann, a former attorney at Perkins Coie and cybersecurity advisor to the 2016 Clinton campaign. Durham indicted Sussman this past September on a single charge of lying to the FBI. Durham also indicted and got a guilty plea from former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith, who said he altered a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court application seeking the court’s authorization for surveillance of Trump campaign advisor Carter Page.
On October 19, 2020 and in order to re-stoke the flames of Trump’s so-called “Russia Hoax,” Durham was appointed by Barr in the last weeks of the 2020 campaign, Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign was working on ways to overturn an election victory by Joe Biden, an action that would later result in Barr’s resignation. Garland has refused to release the Barr Memo and redacted portions of the Mueller Report that could shed light on Trump’s collusion with the Russian government and Russian oligarchs to win the 2016 election and demonstrate that Durham’s “investigation” of the Clintons and others is a complete sham.
After Trump had ordered a thorough political purge of the Justice Department, from Main Justice to the U.S. Attorney’s Offices around the country, Justice was left with pro-Trump officials. Many were either holdovers from the George W. Bush administration or Trump era hires. Many of these officials have similar political agendas to that of former assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, Jeffrey Clark. As the acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Division, Clark attempted to force states that voted for Biden to change their slate of Electoral College electors to those pledged to Trump.
The U.S. Attorney for the Virgin Islands, where a full investigation of the St. Thomas-based activities of the late international underage sex trafficker, Jeffrey Epstein, have yet to be fully investigated by federal and territorial law enforcement, is Gretchen C. F. Shappert, Trump’s former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Why did Garland retain Trump’s U.S. Attorney David Weiss in Delaware? In December 2020, Weiss launched a tax investigation of President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, while Trump was in a pique over the election and sought revenge against Biden in any way that was possible.
It is increasingly becoming clear that Garland, who has a rather Caspar Milquetoast-like demeanor, may be facing a department and FBI that is chock-full of Trump supporters and sympathizers. It is known that members of law enforcement, including those from various local police departments, including the US Capitol Police, actively or passively supported the siege and occupation of the US Capitol. Why would federal law enforcement be any different?
How many in the Trump mob included FBI agents sympathetic to the coup plot? Did the seditionists include any U.S. Marshals or Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents?
In a recent conversation this editor had with an FBI agent, he seemed rather uninterested in the January 6th investigation by the Select Committee. He even revealed he never heard of Alex Jones’s role in the Insurrection Day “Stop the Steal” rally on The Ellipse. If, during his four years in the White House, Trump managed to carry out a debilitating purge of the Justice Department to embed people like Clark, Durham, and others, President Biden should ask Garland to resign and his replacement should be empowered to suspend Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regulations and guidelines to thoroughly rid the department, FBI, and other agencies of anti-constitutional personnel threats to America’s legal integrity and national security.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and nationally-distributed columnist. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).