The Jan. 6 committee may be trying to 'force Garland's hand' as he's accused of holding back on Trump: writer

The Jan. 6 committee may be trying to 'force Garland's hand' as he's accused of holding back on Trump: writer
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Wikimedia Commons

When President Joe Biden picked Merrick Garland for U.S. attorney general, many critics of former President Donald Trump were hoping that the Department of Justice would pursue the wrongdoings of his administration aggressively. But some Trump foes, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, believe that Garland isn't going after Trump enough when it comes to the January 6 insurrection, Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results or Trump's attempt to obstruct former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

During a recent appearance on Yahoo News' "Skullduggery" podcast, Schiff said he is "vehemently" disappointed that investigating Trump hasn't been a higher priority for Garland.

The 61-year-old Schiff, author of the new book "Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could," said of Garland, "I think there's a real desire on the part of the attorney general, for the most part, not to look backward. Do I disagree with that? I do disagree with that, and I disagree with it most vehemently when it comes to what I consider even more serious offenses. For example, a taped conversation of Donald J. Trump on the phone with Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state from Georgia, trying to coerce him into fraudulently finding 11,780 votes."

Schiff, in his book, writes that the Mueller Report offers "a factual basis to charge the president with multiple crimes of obstruction."

During the "Skullduggery" interview, the House Intelligence chair also brought up Trump and the Stormy Daniels scandal. Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney and "fixer," has said in court that in 2016, he committed a campaign finance crime on Trump's behalf when he paid porn star Daniels hush money to keep quiet about an extramarital affair that Trump had with her. Cohen was sentenced to prison for this, but Trump himself was never charged with anything.

Schiff told the "Skullduggery" podcast, "There's also an indictment in the Southern District of New York, in which individual No. 1 directed and coordinated a campaign fraud scheme in which the Justice Department argued that the guy who.... coordinated and directed, Michael Cohen, needed to go to jail. So, what's the argument that the guy that did the coordinating and did the directing gets a pass?"

Schiff continued, "My view in light of (former President Richard) Nixon being pardoned, the Justice Department taking a position you can't prosecute a sitting president, which I also disagree with — to say now that as a practical matter, you can't prosecute a former president, would make the president above the law. And that's a dangerous proposition in the abstract. Given that Trump is, I think, already running for president again, it's an even more dangerous prospect for the future."

Journalist Brian Beutler, in the Big Tent column he writes for Crooked Media, observes that members of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's select committee on the January 6 insurrection "seem to be at least a little worried that Merrick Garland doesn't have the will to make sure their investigation can succeed."

Analyzing the comments that Schiff made during the "Skullduggery" interview, Beutler writes, "Schiff is a careful speaker, a senior, respected Democrat and a former federal prosecutor himself. He wouldn't have characterized Garland that way — as placing Trump 'above the law' — if he didn't have good reason to believe that's what Garland's done. And if he's right, then there's very likely to be a collision between Garland and the January 6 committee sooner or later."

All this comes as the House has voted to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena by the Jan. 6 committee. This, Beutler, argued, poses a major test for Garland:

In the weeks leading up to Thursday's vote, members of the committee issued several conspicuous warnings to insurrection witnesses. With a new sheriff in town, they wouldn't be able thumb their noses at congressional investigators. Bill Barr isn't there to protect them anymore; and Garland, who respects the rule of law, would provide them no quarter. They offered these warnings, no doubt, in the hope that they might discourage members of Trump's inner circle from trying to run out the clock on the committee's investigation.
But I think they were also meant to force Garland's hand. The committee can see as well as anyone that Garland has no appetite for direct confrontation with Donald Trump. And there's a pretty straight line from Trump's impunity to the ultimate failure of the January 6 committee.
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