The Mahablog

Politics. Society. Group Therapy.

The Mahablog

Why the Justice Department Held Back

Today the Washington Post is reporting that the Justice Department really did delay looking into Trump’s involvement in January 6. (No paywall.)

A Washington Post investigation found that more than a year would pass before prosecutors and FBI agents jointly embarked on a formal probe of actions directed from the White House to try to steal the election. Even then, the FBI stopped short of identifying the former president as a focus of that investigation.

A wariness about appearing partisan, institutional caution, and clashes over how much evidence was sufficient to investigate the actions of Trump and those around him all contributed to the slow pace. Garland and the deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco, charted a cautious course aimed at restoring public trust in the department while some prosecutors below them chafed, feeling top officials were shying away from looking at evidence of potential crimes by Trump and those close to him, The Post found.

In November 2022, after Trump announced he was again running for president, making him a potential 2024 rival to President Biden, Garland appointed special counsel Jack Smith to take over the investigation into Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

Lots of people were being way too cautious, The blame doesn’t necessarily fall on Merrick Garland alone or any other one person. However, do see Emptywheel’s analysis, pointing to a former head of the Washington DC FBI field office, Steve D’Antuono. You may want to read Emptywheel first, actually. There’s a lot here, and I haven’t digested it all.