Tag Archives: Merrick Garland

DOJ files landmark sedition charge … wow!

So, just how serious is the U.S. Department of Justice in its pursuit of who did what and when during the 1/6 insurrection against the federal government?

It has filed sedition charges against the leader and founder of the ultra-right wing group Oath Keepers in an unprecedented allegation that the group sought to topple the government in an effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

The main target is a North Texas resident, Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers who faces a potential 20-year sentence in a federal prison if he is convicted of the charges leveled against him.

This is a big deal, man!

According to CNN.com: Attorney General Merrick Garland had balked at the earlier efforts to bring the seditious conspiracy charge. But in the months since, people briefed on the matter say FBI investigators and DC federal prosecutors have spent much time building the case, at least in part with the help of cooperators and the benefit of internal communications among the Oath Keepers.

Takeaways from the landmark sedition indictment against the Oath Keepers – CNNPolitics

I have heard from critics of this blog who have suggested that there have been no “insurrection” charges filed against any of the defendants accused of participating in the riot on Capitol Hill. Attorney General Merrick Garland has rendered that point moot with the charge against Rhodes and others.

The DOJ probe took a year to complete, which suggests to me that the AG made damn sure to cover every possible detail before announcing the indictments.

The investigation into this hideous event is sure to pick up a head of steam. It certainly should. The House select committee is moving forward with its own probe into what transpired on that terrible day. It is issuing summons to members of Congress and is getting push back from the Trump cult members of Congress who are resisting requests to talk to the panel.

Are the walls closing in on the former president, the guy who incited the riot with his call on the Ellipse on 1/6 to “take back our government”? I certainly hope so.

I applaud AG Merrick Garland for demonstrating an astonishing level of courage in following the law, as he said he would, “wherever it takes us.”

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Do your job, DOJ

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

When the U.S. House select committee assigned to investigate the riot/insurrection of 1/6 gets near the end of its mission, it likely will face a key decision: Does it refer criminal charges against the former president of the United States to the Department of Justice?

Then we will have another key decision — perhaps — from DOJ: Will it indict the former POTUS on criminal charges related to whatever he did to incite the insurrection?

Let’s be clear-headed about something that Attorney General Merrick Garland has said about what might lie ahead. He said he would “follow the law wherever it leads.” Garland said he would not be pushed toward any action or away from it on the basis of politics. I take him at his word. He served on the federal bench before getting the call to lead the Justice Department and by all accounts he did his job interpreting the Constitution with distinction, fairness and with integrity. Thus, I have no reason to believe he wouldn’t make any DOJ-related decisions using the same benchmarks that guided his decisions as a judge.

Garland does not strike me as a man who shies away from making history. He surely would do so if a federal grand jury under his watch were to indict a former president of the U.S.A. on criminal charges. It was President Nixon who once suggested that presidents were “above the law,” that whatever decision they made while serving as president were “legal” only because it was the president who was making them.

Garland has let it be known clearly and with ambiguity that no one — not even a president — is above the law.

The timing of all this remains anyone’s guess. Donald Trump is trying to run out the clock. He seeks to delay it all until after the midterm election. If Republicans, as expected, take control of Congress, then succeed in delaying any action further, then they will have given life to two dubious assertions.

One is that Richard Nixon’s misguided declaration of presidential power is correct, and that Donald Trump will be able to slip away — once again — from those who are demanding he be held accountable for the insurrection that sought to derail our cherished democracy.

If the U.S. Justice Department is going to indict Donald Trump, my fervent hope is that it acts with immediate dispatch.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

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.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

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.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

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.

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.

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.

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.

Senate confirms AG … yes!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The United States finally has a new attorney general … who’s going to serve as the people’s lawyer, not someone who runs political interference for the president of the United States.

Welcome to the fray, Merrick Garland. A weary nation has been waiting for you.

The U.S. Senate voted 70-30 today to confirm Garland. It’s a good news/bad news kind of vote. The good news is that 20 Republicans crossed over to vote for the Democratic president’s nominee; the bad news is that 30 of them stayed on their side of the great divide and voted “no” on a man who is highly regarded as a brilliant and fair-minded legal scholar.

The Texas delegation in the U.S. Senate split on this one: Republican John Cornyn voted to confirm Garland while his fellow GOP colleague, Ted Cruz, voted against. Cruz’s “no” vote, I will venture a guess, likely was cast more out of petulance than principle.

Garland will succeed William Barr, who quit in the final weeks of the Trump administration out of anger over the way Donald Trump conducted himself leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection that Trump incited. The period before that, though, is what troubled so many of us, as Barr acted so much as though he was representing Donald Trump and not the interests of all Americans and the Constitution to which he swore an oath to defend and protect.

I do not believe we are going to have that issue with Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Senate votes to confirm Garland as attorney general | TheHill

This is an important step in the reconstruction of a Justice Department decimated by Donald Trump and his legal eagle minions. Garland pledges to put the people’s interest front and center, that he won’t be bullied or coerced into making political decisions. “I am the United States’s lawyer. I will do everything in my power … to fend off any effort by anyone to make prosecutions or investigations partisan or political in any way,” Garland said during his eight-hour Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing.

You know what? I believe him. I also believe he will restore the DOJ to the level of integrity, fairness and toughness that has been its hallmark. Our government needs that guarantee.