Tag Archives: DOJ

AG Garland rises to occasion

As I look at and listen to Attorney General Merrick Garland I am filled with an odd sense of fulfillment … and I wonder if he feels something akin to it, too.

In early 2016, President Barack H. Obama nominated Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court to succeed the iconic conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly while vacationing in Texas. Garland had served with distinction on the D.C. Appeals Court, so Obama thought he’d be a good fit for the highest court in the land.

The Republican majority leader in the Senate said “not so fast.” He blocked Garland’s appointment by declaring we were “too close” to a presidential election. Mitch McConnell wanted to wait until the 2016 election concluded. He was hoping the GOP nominee would win. His dream came true with the election of Donald J. Trump, who then selected the first of three justices to the high court.

Garland by then had gone back to work on the D.C. bench. Then came another nomination from another president, Joe Biden, who wanted Garland to become attorney general. The Senate, now in Democratic hands, approved his nomination and Garland is now standing his post at DOJ.

He is doing, in my view, the kind of stellar job of enforcing the law one would expect of him, given his credentials as a fair-minded jurist.

Yes, I saw the GOP stiffing of his nomination to the SCOTUS as a tragic event. McConnell demonstrated the kind of arrogance I frankly didn’t think was possible.

What’s more, I shudder to think what could happen after the 2022 midterm election and the GOP resumes control of the Senate. What might occur if another vacancy occurs on the SCOTUS, say, in early 2023. Would the Senate stiff the current president as it did the earlier one, citing the same specious reasoning for disallowing a nomination to go forward as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution?

I fear that would be the case.

Meanwhile, AG Merrick Garland is doing his job at Justice with supreme skill. It is just as many of us knew he would do.

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DOJ weighs in with indictment of Bannon

If we were waiting for U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to announce his intention on how he would handle a contempt of Congress citation for a key adviser to Donald J. Trump, well … we need not keep waiting.

A federal grand jury answered it for us when it indicted Steve Bannon on a charge of contempt of Congress.

That means without question that the DOJ takes Congress’s subpoena of Trump administration advisers and aides seriously enough to indict them on federal felony charges.

We have just witnessed a serious warning shot to others who will follow Bannon’s lead in refusing to appear before a House select committee that is looking into the 1/6 events and the riot incited by Trump.

Garland said the Justice Department remains committed to following the law, which he said has occurred with the grand jury indictment of Steve Bannon.

Will the former POTUS adviser plead guilty to avoid a trial? Or will he go all the way? I don’t know how he intends to defend himself. He cannot possibly claim to operate under presidential executive privilege authority; courts have ruled already that Trump no longer possesses that authority. President Biden won’t grant it, either.

We now will get to watch whether the Department of Justice has the muscle to go the distance with this matter. Let’s hope it flexes its muscle accordingly.

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AG Garland, you need to look into POTUS 45’s plot

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Merrick Garland has long been considered a fair-minded, reasonable, rational man who isn’t an overly partisan public official.

Thus, the U.S. attorney general can be counted on to do the right thing even in the face of intense political pressure.

I cannot possibly know this to be true, but I am willing to bet that AG Garland is getting a snootful of pressure to investigate the shenanigans orchestrated by the former president of the United States. They deal with POTUS 45’s relentless efforts to overturn what has been called “the most secure election in U.S. history.”

Is there an effort here to undermine the government? To subvert the democratic process? To actually mount what has been called a coup by the former POTUS to snatch the presidency back from the guy who defeated him in the 2020 election?

If there was a coup in the works, my understanding of the word “treason” tells me that POTUS 45 is guilty as the dickens of seeking to plot against the government he took an oath to defend and protect.

I don’t know what Merrick Garland will do. Nor do I know even if he is talking behind closed doors at the Justice Department about whether he should investigate the former POTUS. My hunch is that he has had that conversation with his top deputies.

Presidents are supposed to temporary occupants of the office they take. That is the case with President Biden’s immediate predecessor. His insistence on fomenting the Big Lie about phony vote fraud allegations tells me he does not believe that to be the case.

Merrick Garland has some studying — and perhaps some serious soul-searching — ahead of him.

Let’s see ex-POTUS’s tax returns

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Well now, the Department of Justice has spoken, telling the Treasury Department that it must release the long-sought tax returns of the former Cheater in Chief to Congress.

Is that the end of it? Does that mean the former POTUS is going to comply?

Oh-h-h no. Not even close. He’ll find a way to fight it.

The DOJ memo issued today is a reversal of what it declared when POTUS 45 was in office. There’s a new sheriff in town, so now the posture is different.

The memo said the following, according The Hill: In a memo from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), acting Assistant Attorney General Dawn Johnsen said the Treasury Department was required to defer to the congressional committee.

“The statute at issue here is unambiguous: ‘Upon written request’ of the chairman of one of the three congressional tax committees, the Secretary ‘shall furnish’ the requested tax information to the Committee,” Johnsen wrote in the 39-page memo.

Unambiguous? That means it’s crystal clear.

Justice Department says Trump’s tax returns should be released | TheHill

Many of us have argued all along that presidential political custom should prevail in this matter. Candidates going back to 1976 have revealed to the public their net worth and opened their books to public scrutiny. That held true until POTUS 45 entered the presidential field in 2016. He said he would release them, then he backed out, then he agreed again, then he balked once more.

He said tax gurus are auditing his returns. However, he’s never provided a shred of proof that the Internal Revenue Service in fact is auditing his returns; the IRS, meanwhile, has said that an audit does not preclude a politician from releasing them to the public.

The ex-Liar in Chief insists there is nothing untoward in his returns. Well, alrighty then. If that’s the case, then there should be nothing to hide. Right?

At issue now is whether Congress can review the returns in private and decide whether to make them public.

Speaking only for myself, I want to see it all. We deserve — at the very least — to know whether the ex-Con Man in Chief is as rich as he has bragged of being.

Domestic terror deserves national attention

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Yes, the headline on this blog is one of those no-brainers.

However, to hear the U.S. attorney general speak so forcefully about the threats posed by domestic terror reminds me of why I support this fellow and the individual who nominated him for the job, President Biden.

AG Merrick Garland continues to give voice to issues that need to be heard.

Just as he spoke the other day about the Justice Department’s commitment to ensuring that all Americans have access to the electoral process, he spoke again today about the existential threat posed by domestic terror.

We all saw that threat play out on Jan. 6 when the mob attacked the U.S. Capitol as members of Congress led by Vice President Mike Pence were certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. Congressional Democrats and a handful of their Republican colleagues want a bipartisan commission to explore in detail the cause and effect of that insurrection. We know already what to call it: an act of rebellion against the government, incited by the immediate past president who continues to foment The Big Lie about the election being “stolen” from him.

The men who served as attorney general under the former president’s single term in office did not speak with anything approaching the passion and eloquence about domestic terrorism that AG Merrick Garland has done.

“We will never take our eyes off the risk of another devastating attack by foreign terrorists,” he said in remarks delivered today at the Justice Department. “At the same time, we must respond to domestic terrorism with the same sense of purpose and dedication.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland unveils plan to combat domestic terrorism – CBS News

CBS News reported: Administration officials, in briefing reporters on the strategy, pointed to an increase in politically, ethnically, and racially motivated acts of domestic terrorism in the U.S. over the years, including the congressional baseball shooting that took place four years ago this week, when a shooter opened fire on members of Congress because they were Republican. 

So it must proceed. FBI Director Christopher Wray has called domestic terrorism an even greater threat to Americans than terrorists from abroad. It is time to respond accordingly.

AG to fight for voter rights … imagine that!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Merrick Garland’s pronouncements in favor of all Americans’ right to vote was at the same time both expected and refreshing.

The U.S. attorney general said he would beef up the Justice Department’s civil  rights division legal staff to ensure that all Americans who want to vote are allowed to do so. Is that a monumental policy shift? Does such a commitment constitute a break from the norm at DOJ? Of course not!

Garland spoke to the nation just the other day and declared that DOJ would examine whether states’ efforts to toughen voting laws infringes on Americans’ civil liberties or their rights to vote in light of the Voting and Civil Rights acts of 1964 and 1965.

This might seem like a no-brainer, given that the attorney general takes an oath to do what Garland has proposed doing: protecting our rights.

Except that we didn’t hear that kind of rhetoric from his immediate predecessors, former attorneys general Jeff Sessions and William Barr, both of whom are on a different kind of hot seat at the moment.

Those gentlemen were virtually silent on the issue of protecting voters’ rights while they served during the previous president’s administration.

So it is with relief that we hear Attorney General Garland pronounce in clear and unambiguous language his intention to ensure that the act he calls a fundamental right of citizenship — voting — is available to every American who desires to have his or her voice  heard in this democratic process.

Bring the AGs to Congress

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Former attorneys general Jeff Sessions and William Barr say they were “unaware” of any effort by the Justice Department to snoop into the records of key congressional Democrats during the administration of the individual they both served.

Hmm. I believe they need to be summoned to Capitol Hill and forced to testify under oath that they are telling the truth.

We have a case here of a president flouting the rule of law, of ignoring the separation of powers, of intimidating his political adversaries. Sessions and Barr contend they weren’t party to anything of the sort.

I do not believe them. Nor do I discount the reporting of major media outlets that the ex-president ordered the Justice Department to dig up dirt on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and his Democratic colleague Eric Swalwell.

We have a reprehensible example of a president not caring one damn bit about the oath he took to protect and defend the Constitution.

There needs to be a full accounting of who know what and when.

Bring the ex-attorneys general to Capitol Hill and make ’em tell the truth about what the heck happened during their time on duty.

AG Garland makes critical vow

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Attorney General Merrick Garland has given good-government adherents something to cheer.

He spoke at length today vowing to do all he can to protect the rights of all Americans to vote, to take part in the democratic process. Moreover, he pledged to dramatically increase the civil-rights division staff of lawyers to guard against efforts to disenfranchise American voters.

“There are plenty of things up for debate in America, but the right of all eligible Americans to vote is not one of them,” Garland said.

Do ya think?

Garland appeared today to draw a bead on Republican-led efforts in  legislatures across the land — and that certainly includes Texas — to make voting a good bit more arduous for many Americans than it ever should be. As NBC News reported: The staffing surge would occur over the next the next 30 days, he said, and the beefed-up unit will use all laws at its disposal “to ensure that we protect every qualified American seeking to participate in our democracy.”

Garland says Justice Department will scrutinize new GOP-led voting restrictions (nbcnews.com)

Merrick Garland came to the Justice Department after a stellar career as a federal judge. He knows the Constitution and has spent a good bit of his professional life interpreting what issues pass constitutional muster. Accordingly, he asserted today that the DOJ will investigate effort whether statewide efforts cross a constitutional line they shouldn’t cross.

The 2020 election had many important features. One of them was the remarkable spike in the number of ballots that were cast. All told, nearly 160 million Americans voted for president. The most important feature, of course, was that Americans elected Joe Biden as president, who in turn nominated a towering judicial figure — Merrick Garland — to lead the Justice Department.

Today, the nation got a glimpse of the wisdom of President Biden’s choice of the nation’s top legal eagle.

“So far this year, at least 14 states have passed new laws that make it harder to vote,” Garland said.

“We are scrutinizing new laws that seek to curb voter access and where we see violations, we will not hesitate to act. We are also scrutinizing current laws and practices in order to determine whether they discriminate against Black voters and other voters of color,” Garland said.

Yes, Mr. Attorney General. You have the floor.

Ex-POTUS played dirtier than dirty

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Well now. The hits just keep coming months after the previous president of the United States has left office.

We hear the latest revelation about Donald J. Trump, which is that he allegedly ordered the Justice Department to seize the personal records of at least two congressional Democratic critics of his; moreover, the DOJ went after the records of several key House Intelligence Committee staffers; and, get this, DOJ also took the personal records of a juvenile.

Why? According to reporting from the New York Times, Trump was so very concerned about leaks stemming from Robert Mueller’s investigation that he wanted to find their source. So he went after congressional Democrats.

This is the kind of thing that ought to send chills up the spines of any good-government advocate. It violates the separation of powers between the executive and legislative government branches; it reveals that a president is willing to sic federal authorities on perceived political enemies; it suggests that the POTUS has zero regard for the rule of law.

Hmmm. Imagine that, if you dare. I believe Donald Trump was impeached twice because he has zero regard for the law.

He won’t be impeached a third time. However, this latest live grenade will not subside any time soon. Nor should it.

Beware, domestic terrorists

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has laid down the law to those who seek to terrorize Americans from within our borders.

The Department of Justice is coming after them.

Indeed, Garland has experience dealing with — and bringing justice to — domestic terrorists. It was 26 years ago today that a home-grown, corn-fed terrorist detonated a bomb in front of the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The blast killed 168 people, including 19 children in the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.

Police arrested the bomber soon afterward. Garland was a young federal prosecutor who led the charge in bringing the madman to justice. He succeeded and the killer was executed.

The New York Times reported: “Although many years have passed, the terror perpetrated by people like Timothy McVeigh is still with us,” Mr. Garland said. “The Department of Justice is pouring its resources into stopping domestic violent extremists before they can attack, prosecuting those who do, and battling the spread of the kind of hate that leads to tragedies like the one we mark here today.”

Garland Leads Commemoration of Oklahoma City Bombing (msn.com)

Make no mistake, domestic terror is alive and festering. FBI Director Christopher Wray said in 2019 that domestic terrorism presents the single greatest threat to Americans, even more than foreign terrorists.

Indeed, we saw them storm the Capitol Building on Jan. 6 and we have heard members of Congress actually endorse the myriad phony conspiracy theories espoused by domestic terrorists. Imagine that … if you can.

It is with that backdrop that I welcome AG Garland’s renewed commitment to fighting the enemy from within.