A group of House Democrats is accusing Attorney General Merrick Garland of being reluctant to take on “weaponization and politicization” of the Department of Justice (DOJ) that they say took place under former President Donald Trump.
In a letter to Garland on Monday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and members of the House Judiciary Committee accused him of an “apparent reluctance to correct the weaponization and politicization” of the DOJ under Trump.
“The public’s faith in the DOJ has been dangerously undermined, and it is essential to prioritize restoring public trust,” they added.
Specifically, they noted the DOJ’s effort to continue “block the release of the full 2019 Office of Legal Counsel memo to former Attorney General Barr to downplay President Trump’s obstruction of the Mueller investigation.”
They also cited the department’s decision to defend Trump from a defamation lawsuit, request that lawsuits against Trump and former Attorney General William Barr over the clearing of protesters from Lafayette Square be dismissed, and its “recent appeal of a decision that finally granted Congress access to Trump Hotel documents.”
Additionally, they said the department’s “continued involvement” in Elizabeth Hunter et al v U.S. Department of Education would uphold “the ability for taxpayer funded colleges to discriminate against LGBTQ students.”
The letter read, “For four years, the Trump Administration undermined the Constitution as President Trump consistently abused his power by seeking to use the DOJ to protect his political allies, undermine career officials, and subvert congressional authority.”
“Restoring the American people’s faith will not come just from a return to previous norms. Instead, DOJ must address the unprecedented shattering of those norms, clearly communicate to the American people the real damage that was done, and commit to accountability for the previous administration,” it added.
The lawmakers’ letter comes after it was reported that the DOJ under Trump secretly seized phone records of reporters and subpoenaed the records of two Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee as part of leak investigations.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), whose records were subpoenaed, called for Garland to conduct a “wholesale review of all of the politicization of the department over the last four years.”
Garland is facing outrage from some who believe that he is not acting to root out what they say was corruption in the DOJ under Trump’s tenure as they cite the department’s decision to side with Trump in court.
Earlier this month, Garland was pressed on the department’s decision to defend Trump in a defamation lawsuit, he responded, “The job of the Justice Department in making decisions of law is not to back any administration, previous or present. Our job is to represent the American people. Our job, in doing so, is to ensure adherence to the rule of law.”
He added that there cannot be “one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans, that there not be one rule for friends and another for foes.”
However, he argued that on the issue of policy differences, the DOJ was working quickly to reverse Trump-era policies.
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