Politics Garland defends Justice Department moves seen as pro-Trump
House Democrats are still pursuing Trump's tax returns but Biden administration may not play ball
After notching recent wins in their long hunt for material to help bring legal accountability to former President Donald Trump, congressional Democrats fear the Biden administration won't be helpful when it comes to obtaining the documents they covet the most: Trump's tax returns.Critics of the former President have demanded a response to what they charge are the many injustices and potential crimes of the Trump administration. But four months into President Joe Biden's term, liberal advocates and some lawmakers are growing impatient that the Justice Department hasn't done more to expose the Trump administration's alleged misdeeds -- and in some cases has even tried to help shield them.
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday strongly defended recent Justice Department moves that appeared to give legal cover to former President Donald Trump and his appointees.
During a Senate budget hearing, Garland said he was aware of the controversy triggered by the Justice Department’s actions defending Trump in a civil suit and seeking to maintain secrecy around memos sent to former Attorney General William Barr as he responded to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Rachel Maddow Demands Merrick Garland 'Clean Up' DOJ
The Department of Justice is seeking to substitute itself for former President Donald Trump as the defendant in a defamation case.Maddow said on her Tuesday show that the DOJ had been "corrupted" under former Attorney General William Barr, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump.
“I know about the criticism,” Garland said in response to a question from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). “The job of a Justice Department in making decisions of law is not to back any administration, previous or present. Our job is to represent the American people and our job in doing so is to ensure adherence to the rule of law.”
“The fundamental rule of a democracy, or a republic, or a republican democracy, and the essence of the rule of law … is that like case be treated alike, that there not be one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans, that there not be one rule for friends and another for foes,” Garland told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee.
In recent weeks, many supporters of President Joe Biden have expressed surprise and disappointment at. The moves include a brief on Monday continuing the government’s defense of Trump in a defamation lawsuit brought by a New York writer, E. Jean Carroll, who accused the then-real estate mogul of raping her in the 1990s in a Manhattan department store fitting room.
The slow leak of Trump's corruption is a problem for Biden's DOJ
Under Bill Barr, the DOJ targeted House Democrats and their families Donald Trump, Merrick Garland and Joe Biden Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images
In the past week, the White House has issued statements on three occasions to distance itself and Biden from Justice Department decisions or legal filings.
Garland said the decisions to defend cases involving the prior administration were “not always easy.”
“Sometimes we have to make decisions about the law that we would never have made and that we strongly disagree with as a matter of policy,” he said.
Garland stressed that while the department was defending some actions by the Trump administration, it had also changed a series of policies since Biden appointees arrived earlier this year.
“We have reversed policies of the previous administration many times over the last three months,” the attorney general said. “We have initiated our own policies.”
Garland tries to mollify Dems who want de-Trumpified DOJ after secret subpoenas .
"I’m willing to be patient for a bit," one Democratic senator said of the new attorney general's progress. “But if it doesn’t get better I’m going to get pretty impatient."Garland, who served as a federal judge for two decades, has worked to reassure Democrats that he’s taking the issue seriously and pledged to support an independent inspector general’s investigation into the matter. But Democrats are quickly growing impatient and already taking matters into their own hands — opening a formal probe this week to determine who was responsible and hold them accountable.