The Mahablog

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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.

3 thoughts on “Why the Justice Department Held Back

  1. I've known people who deliberately ignored clues that their spouse is/was cheating. The reason was not love or trust. They knew they didn't want to know because when the infidelity is out there in flagrant terms, glowing with ugly acts of deception, you have to act OR you have to pretend it's not happening

    DOJ did the same thing.

  2. Long time reader, first time commenter.  Emptywheel is my definitive source for anything law related in politics.  I really enjoy the in-depth analysis and the objective tone.  It's one of my must-reads during my morning news feed.
    Marcy was very critical of people who were impatient with the DOJ Trump investigations, with repeated posts saying that no-news is just what an in depth investigation might look like, and chiding news folks for speculating without data.
    As someone who was frustrated with DOJ, and who thought – given Dem history of ignoring Rep law breaking – that DOJ was doing it again… I listened to Marcy and cooled my jets. 
    Looks like, in this rare case, she was wrong.  DOJ, true to form, was dragging it's heels and trying not to do it's job, once again.  This is very rare for Marcy, and won't change my opinion of emptywheel as the go-to site for real insight.  But it might do for her to give a small mia culpa.  No one had substantive information during that time, but the folks who defended DOJ were burned once again.

  3. I don't understand the hand wringing, like my Mom always says: "all's well that ends well". The fact is the DOJ opened a case, they are pursuing Stump, he is the "target" of the investigation. I don't fault Garland for slow walking, optics mean something and filing a case against the former GQP President in the months following his appointment by a Democrat is a bad look. It would have been nice to have the trial before the election but I really don't think either trial (Seditious Conspiracy or Espionage) will happen before 11-24, Stump has a huge campaign war chest that for some reason he is allowed to use as a legal defense fund? There will be years of delay either way. What’s done is done attacking Garland and the DOJ now only really helps one person, Stump!

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