The United States Attorney General, Merrick Garlandsaid he would ‘pursue justice without fear or favour’ in his decision whether to charge Donald Trump with crimes related to the attack on the Capitol and his attempt to void the 2020 election, as reports indicate as the Justice Department investigation heats up.
The department is conducting a criminal investigation into the events surrounding and leading up to the January 6 insurrection, an effort that Garland – speaking to NBC’s Lester Holt Tuesday – called “the most extensive investigation in its history”.
Tuesday’s reports suggested the investigation is focusing on Trump’s role. The Washington Post reported – according to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity – that investigators specifically questioned witnesses about Trump’s involvement in schemes to nullify the vote, and received phone records from officials and aides of Trump, including former chief of staff, Mark Meadows. The New York Times also reported that federal investigators had directly questioned witnesses about Trump’s efforts, signaling an escalation.
Responding to criticism that he is not acting quickly enough, Garland told NBC that the department was “acting urgently to learn everything we could learn about this time period and to bring to justice all those criminally responsible for to have obstructed the peaceful transfer of power… which is the fundamental element of our democracy”.
The House committee on January 6 could make a criminal referral. Whether it should or will, and whether it has presented enough evidence to do so, is the subject of intense debate in the United States and within the committee itself.
Members including Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Elaine Luria of Virginia, who co-hosted last week’s final hearing in a series of eight, have suggested a dismissal is possible and desirable. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Vice President, and Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, President, were more circumspect.
NBC released a snippet of the interview earlier on Tuesday. while trump was speaking in Washington, a highly controversial comeback in the city in which he incited a mob to attack Congress, which left nine people dead, including suicides among law enforcement officers.
Holt asked about the political sensitivities around the potential charges for Trump.
Holt said: ‘You said unequivocally the other day that no one is above the law. That said, the indictment of a former president, perhaps a presidential candidate, would undoubtedly tear the country apart. Is that your concern when you make your decision here? Should we think about things like that?
Garland said: “We pursue justice without fear or favor. We intend to hold accountable anyone, anyone who was criminally responsible for the events surrounding January 6 or for any attempt to interfere with the legal transfer of power from one administration to another. This is what we do. We pay no attention to other issues in this regard.
Trump has hinted that he will soon announce a new presidential bid. He hinted at such a decision again in his speech on Tuesday.
Holt said, “So if donald trump were to run for president again, it wouldn’t change your schedule or the way you advance or don’t advance? »
Garland said, “I repeat that we will hold accountable anyone who is criminally responsible for attempting to interfere with the legitimate transfer of power from one administration to another.”
Holt also asked if the DoJ would accept a criminal referral from the House Jan. 6 committee.
The panel made referrals for Trump aides. Steve Bannon has been found guilty of criminal contempt of Congress and faces jail time. Peter Navarro has been charged. Dan Scavino and Mark Meadows were fired, with the DoJ deciding not to act.
Garland told NBC: “So I think it’s entirely up to the committee.
“We will have the evidence that the committee presented and all the evidence that they give us. I don’t think the nature of their style, the way the information is provided, is of particular importance from a legal point of view.
“It’s not to belittle him or denigrate him. It’s just that that’s not… the issue here. We have our own investigation, proceeding through the principles of prosecution.
Maanvi Singh contributed reporting