More than 14 months after the events of January 6, 2021, many Americans are pretty frustrated with the fact that, so far, there appears to be absolutely zero consequences for trying to overthrow the results of a presidential election. That Donald Trump has been spending his days crashing weddings and memorial services, filing frivolous lawsuits, launching ridiculous social media networks, writing unhinged coffee-table books, threatening to run for office in 2024, and, we assume, cheating at golf, makes the people who think he should be in or on his way to prison want to scream. Scream what, you ask? Things like, “How the hell is this guy still a free man?” and “Will he ever be held accountable for anything?” and “I guess plotting coups and inciting insurrections is fine” and “What are you doing Merrick Garland?” and “HAS THE WHOLE WORLD GONE CRAZY? AM I THE ONLY ONE AROUND HERE WHO GIVES A SHIT ABOUT THE RULES?” And apparently, members of the January 6 committee share those same frustrations!
At a hearing to vote on contempt-of-Congress referrals for former Trump advisers Dan Scavino and Peter Navarro—who have refused to cooperate with the investigation, claiming executive privilege—members of the House January 6 committee publicly pleaded with the Justice Department to get its ass moving on charges for uncooperative Trump cronies specifically and step up its investigation of the events surrounding the attack on the Capitol in general. “The Department of Justice has a duty to act on this referral and others that we have sent,” Rep. Adam Schiff said. “Without enforcement of congressional subpoenas, there is no oversight, and without oversight, no accountability—for the former president or any other president, past, present, or future. Without enforcement of its lawful process, Congress ceases to be a coequal branch of government.” Rep. Zoe Lofgren echoed that statement, saying: “Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rightly said that the public needs to know everything about what caused and occurred on January 6. Now, to inform both the American people and legislative reform proposals, this committee needs to speak with Mr. Scavino. He has to fulfill his legal and his moral obligation to provide testimony and documents, or he should face the consequences. That’s why we’re taking this action today. In the United States of America, no one is above the law. This committee is doing its job—the Department of Justice needs to do theirs.” And while those were the most fighting words we’ve heard directed at the DOJ from the committee thus far, Rep. Elaine Luria was even more explicit, officially dispensing with the niceties and fully putting the man in charge of the department on blast.
“When given the opportunity to tell the truth about the attack on January 6, both Mr. Scavino and Mr. Navarro continue to put loyalty to Donald Trump before the Constitution and the American people,” she said. “Tonight, I will vote to hold Mr. Scavino and Mr. Navarro accountable for their actions, and recommend that the House of Representatives cite both of them for contempt of Congress. And the Department of Justice must act swiftly. I will echo what my colleagues have already said, but more bluntly: Attorney General Garland, do your job so that we can do ours.”
The demands for Garland to step up his game came the same day federal judge David Carter said that it was “more likely than not” that Trump (and lawyer John Eastman) had committed a crime when the former president plotted to steal a second term. (An attorney for Eastman said, “Dr. Eastman has an unblemished record as an attorney and respectfully disagrees with the judge’s findings,” but claimed his client would comply with the judge’s order to turn over more than 100 emails. A Trump spokesperson pointed Politico to a Trump statement that said, in part: “The Unselect Committee continue to seek the destruction of lives of very good people.”)
But as Carter noted, his putting it out there that Trump very likely committed a felony, significant as it may be, will not translate to accountability on its own. “The Court is tasked only with deciding a dispute over a handful of emails,” he wrote. “This is not a criminal prosecution; this is not even a civil liability suit.” Apparently just as frustrated as the House committee, not to mention millions of Americans, Carter added: “If the country does not commit to investigating and pursuing accountability for those responsible, the Court fears January 6 will repeat itself.” In other words, Carter was practically screaming for Garland—the only person who has the power to bring criminal charges against Trump and others—to do something. As Bloomberg’s Timothy O’Brien wrote on Tuesday:
A federal judge thinks that former president Donald Trump likely committed fraud…how much longer will it take Attorney General Merrick Garland to draw the same conclusion about that attempted coup?
Perhaps Garland has already gone down that path. But there are no outward signs that he is investigating Trump with an eye toward a possible criminal prosecution. He has every reason to be circumspect, of course, but he has no reason to ignore the mounting evidence of Trump’s crimes.… Carter’s certitude isn’t bias; he understands what’s right in front of him. Garland should do the same.
Incidentally, we already know Trump is laying the groundwork to try and steal the next election, should he decide to run. So it would be nice if the attorney general made stopping him at least the second or third priority on his to-do list.
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