Merrick Garland is a weakling.
When history and the rule of law demanded that he act, the United States Attorney General backed down. Worse still, Garland has betrayed the solemn oath he took when he was named US police chief early last year.
Garland raised his right hand and vowed to “uphold and defend ‘the American Constitution’ against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” He also pledged to “assume this obligation freely without any mental reserve or aim of escape”.
Garland did not keep his word. Instead, he evaded his “obligation” to uphold the constitution even in the face of flagrant violation of the law by a former president turned “enemy” of the founding document he had also sworn to uphold.
Rather than fulfilling her duty, Garland made an unforgivable – some say “cowardly” – choice. He’s told someone else to do the work for him because apparently Garland has more pressing business to attend to besides possibly suing the 45th President, Donald Trump.
By appointing Jack Smith – the former head of the Justice Department’s public integrity section and former war crimes prosecutor – as special counsel to lead the investigations into Trump, Garland reneged on a pledge he made on his first day. as Attorney General to thousands of Departments of Justice. employees and, by extension, millions of enlightened Americans.
There cannot be, he says, “one rule for friends and one for enemies, one rule for the powerful and one for the powerless, one rule for the rich and one for the poor… [T]together, we will show the American people by word and deed that the Department of Justice pursues equal justice and adheres to the rule of law.
It turns out, unsurprisingly, that by her actions, Garland has proven, once again, that there is one rule for the rich and powerful and another for the poor and powerless. And he confirmed that “equal justice” is a stupid anachronism released, at the right time, in flowery speeches by an attorney general more interested in the appearance of propriety than in the application of the rule of law. without fear or favour.
You and I know that if a poor and powerless American citizen had participated in fomenting and encouraging a coup d’etat or had been discovered hoarding a cache of classified documents in his home, the formidable hammer of the Department of Justice would have fallen quickly. and strong.
Garland conceded this stubborn double standard when he argued in his statement announcing Smith’s appointment that “in certain extraordinary cases it is in the public interest to appoint a special prosecutor to independently manage an investigation and prosecution.” .
Incredibly, Garland said, in effect, that as President Joe Biden’s attorney general, he could not be considered an “independent” arbiter of the rule of law – surrendering as well as all the pretty talk about ” equal justice” not only irrelevant but fraudulent.
If Garland’s intention was to blunt criticism that investigations into the actions of the “former guy” are politically motivated, he’s either been in a comfortable coma since, say, 2016, or he’s delusional.
If he believes that by setting up a ‘special counsel’, Trump and his legion of supporters inside and outside Congress will refrain from howling about the sinister excesses of an insidious ‘deep state’ , it suggests that Garland’s judgment is so arrogant that perhaps Mitch McConnell, then Republican Senate Majority Leader, did the country a service by thwarting his Supreme Court nomination in 2016.
Meanwhile, when Smith leaves The Hague for Washington, he better get his body armor packed. Trump, his allies in Congress and the furious Fox News personalities will now exert their talons on the special counsel in a sustained and coordinated effort to discredit him and his work.
We and he shouldn’t pay attention and let them moan in their pleasant alternate reality echo chamber.
Garland ended her sorry and winding statement by assuring Americans that “given Mr. Smith’s work to date and Mr. Smith’s experience in prosecutions, I am confident that this appointment will not slow the completion of these investigations. “.
I’ve seen able-bodied pedestrians trying to navigate ice-covered sidewalks move faster than Garland and his ever hesitant Department of Justice.
Apparently, the president privately expressed his frustration with Garland’s painstaking pursuit of Trump, whose complicity in a murderous insurrection January 6, 2021, is, Biden insists, “a dagger in the throat of Americans and American democracy.”
In April, The New York Times revealed that Biden “wanted Garland to act less like a heavy-handed judge and more like a prosecutor ready to take decisive action.”
Now, by recusing himself, the Attorney General has, in a tangible way, rewarded Trump and his self-serving bet to announce his presidential candidacy early by providing what all crooks covet and demand: time.
Trump will use the extra months Garland has given him to promote the absurd, but politically compelling, idea that he is the victim of vindictive elected and unelected forces that remain, as always, determined to stop him from “making America great again”, part two.
Smith’s investigation is expected to continue well into the new year and lead to a presidential contest that will gain momentum – with or without Biden leading the Democratic ticket.
Yet Smith is portrayed in the media as a dogged and experienced prosecutor who wins convictions. That should, I suppose, reassure those of us eager to see Trump in the dock. As the Teflon finally seems to be flaking off the Teflon Don, it has shown a remarkable ability to circumvent the reward it has repeatedly earned.
Despite my nagging caution and entrenched pessimism, I’m confident the needle has changed and Trump will be indicted — with Garland’s cursory approval.
But, if and when that glorious day does come, it will be despite the Attorney General’s infuriating dithering and indecision. He shouldn’t be rewarded with praise or celebrated for doing what he calls “the right thing.” Garland didn’t deserve it.
Biden is right. Trump is unfit to be Commander-in-Chief again and he poses a danger to the already tattered fabric of America’s fragile democracy.
It is time for President Trump to be reduced to prisoner Trump. It’s now or never, America.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.