Merrick Garland condemns attacks on Jack Smith

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday rejected attacks on Special Counsel Jack Smith and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

In an opinion piece titled “Unfounded attacks on the Justice Department must end,” published by the WashingtonPost On Tuesday, Garland spoke about the ongoing attacks against the department, including threats, conspiracy theories and falsehoods, adding that Smith has also been involved in these attacks recently because he led the investigation into Donald Trump.

Newsweek has emailed the Justice Department and Trump’s spokesman for comment.

“In recent weeks, we have seen an escalation of attacks that go far beyond public scrutiny, criticism, and legitimate and necessary oversight of our work. They are baseless, personal, and dangerous. These attacks come in the form of threats to defund certain departmental investigations, most recently the special counsel’s prosecution of the former president,” Garland wrote.

Garland went on to cite a specific example following Trump’s guilty verdict in the hush money case brought by Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney.

A New York jury found Trump guilty last month on 34 counts of falsifying business records over a hush money payment Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election. Trump maintains his innocence and says the case is politically motivated. Since then, he has claimed the Justice Department had a hand in it.

Merrick Garland
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on June 4, 2024 in Washington, DC. Garland pushed back against attacks on Special Counsel Jack Smith and the Department of Justice (DOJ)…

ALLISON BAILEY/Images from the Middle East/AFP/Getty Images

“They come in the form of conspiracy theories that are constructed and spread to undermine public confidence in the legal process itself. These include false claims that a case brought by a local district attorney and decided by a jury verdict in a state trial was somehow controlled by the Department of Justice,” Garland added.

In the wake of the case, the former president has frequently scrutinized the Justice Department, alleging that President Joe Biden had a hand in it.

“They are working closely with the White House and the Department of Justice,” Trump said of the court. “Just so you understand: Biden and his people are the ones responsible for all of this.”

There is no evidence that Biden or the Justice Department were involved in the hush money case against Trump. The hush money case was brought by local prosecutors in Manhattan who do not work for the Justice Department or any White House office.

Garland’s comments come after Smith led the Justice Department’s investigation into Trump’s election interference. In August, the former president was indicted on four counts alleging he attempted to overturn the outcome of his 2020 election loss to Biden in the run-up to the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump, the likely 2024 Republican presidential nominee, has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which include conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.

The former president has also pleaded not guilty to the 40 counts against Smith, which allege that he withheld classified documents after moving out of the White House in January 2021 and then obstructed the federal government’s attempt to retrieve them from his Mar-a-Lago vacation home in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump maintains his innocence in the case.

Meanwhile, Garland’s comments come as House Republicans plan a full-house vote this week to hold Garland in contempt of Congress for refusing to release the audio recording of President Joe Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur about his handling of classified information.

In February, Hur’s report was released on the classified Obama-era documents found in Biden’s Delaware home and his office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, DC, between November 2022 and January 2023. Hur declined to prosecute Biden for misusing the classified documents.

However, House Republicans continue to argue that the tapes of the interview are necessary for their investigation into the president, even though the Justice Department has provided Republican committees with a transcript of Hur’s interview with Biden.

“The purpose of obtaining the Biden interview tapes is so that the committees need to do their legislative work. They use the audio recordings to evaluate the special counsel’s work and accuracy. We have the transcript; there should be no surprises here,” House Speaker Mike Johnson said at a press conference last month.

Garland, meanwhile, maintained his stance of not releasing the tapes, adding that he would not be “intimidated.”

“I will not be intimidated. And the Department of Justice will not be intimidated. We will continue to do our work free from political influence. And we will not stop defending our democracy,” Garland told the Judiciary Committee last week.

The Rules Committee is expected to meet Tuesday to pass the contempt of court resolution. If passed, the resolution will go to the full House for a vote.