Merrick Garland is a wimp.
When history and the rule of law demanded that he act, the US Attorney General cringed. Even worse, Garland betrayed the solemn oath of office he took when he was named America’s Chief Law Enforcement Officer early last year.
Garland raised his right hand and vowed to “support and defend” the U.S. Constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” He also agreed to “assume this obligation freely without any reservation or evasion”.
Garland did not keep his word. Instead, he has evaded his “obligation” to defend the constitution, even in the face of flagrant lawbreaking by a former president who became “enemy” of the founding document he was also sworn to uphold.
Instead of fulfilling his duty, Garland made an unforgivable – some say “cowardly” – choice. He told someone else to do the job for him, as Garland apparently has more pressing matters to attend to besides possibly prosecuting the 45th president, Donald Trump.
By appointing Jack Smith — the ex-head of the Justice Department’s public integrity section and veteran war crimes prosecutor — as special counsel to lead the Trump investigations, Garland reneges on a commitment he made on his first day as Attorney General has done to thousands of the Justice Department. workers and, by extension, millions of enlightened Americans.
There cannot be, he said, “one rule for friends and another for enemies, one rule for the powerful and another for the powerless, one rule for the rich and another for the poor… [T]together we will show the American people in word and deed that the Justice Department is committed to equal justice and abides by the rule of law.”
Turns out, unsurprisingly, Garland has proven once again through his actions that there’s one rule for the rich and powerful and another for the poor and powerless. And he has affirmed that “equal justice” is a silly anachronism brought out at the right time in flowery speeches by an attorney general more interested in the appearance of decency than in applying the rule of law without fear or favour. .
You and I know that if a poor and powerless American citizen had taken part in inciting and encouraging a coup d’état or had been discovered hoarding a stash of classified documents at home, the formidable hammer of the Justice Department would have fallen swiftly and hard.
Garland admitted this stubborn double standard when, in his statement announcing Smith’s appointment, he argued that “in certain extraordinary cases, it is in the public interest to appoint a special prosecutor to independently conduct an investigation and prosecution “.
Incredibly, Garland basically said that as Attorney General to President Joe Biden, he could not be considered an “independent” arbiter of the rule of law – making himself and all the fine talk of “equal justice” not only irrelevant but fraudulent. .
If Garland’s intention was to play down criticism that the investigations into the “former man’s” actions are politically motivated, then he’s either been in a comfortable coma since 2016 or so, or he’s delusional.
If he believes that by establishing 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 conceited that perhaps Mitch McConnell, the then Republican Senate Majority Leader, did the country a favor by thwarting his nomination to the Supreme Court in 2016.
Meanwhile, when Smith leaves The Hague for Washington, he better pack his body armor. Trump, his congressmen and irate Fox News personalities will now train their claws on the special counsel in a sustained, coordinated effort to discredit him and his work.
We and he should pay no attention to them and let them wail in their pleasant alternate reality echo chamber.
Garland ended his rueful, meandering statement by assuring Americans that “given the work to date and Mr. Smith’s experience as prosecutor, I am confident that this appointment will not delay the completion of these investigations.”
I’ve seen able-bodied pedestrians try to move over icy sidewalks faster than Garland and his ever-faltering Justice Department.
The president reportedly privately expressed frustration with Garland’s floundering pursuit of Trump, whose complicity in a deadly rebellion on January 6, 2021, Biden emphasizes, “is a dagger to the throat of Americans and American democracy.”
In April, The New York Times revealed that Biden “wanted Garland to act less like a ponderous judge and more like a prosecutor willing to take decisive action.”
Now, by withdrawing himself, the Attorney General has tangibly rewarded Trump and his selfish gamble to announce his candidacy for president early by providing him with what all con artists covet and need: time.
Trump will use the extra months Garland has given him to promote the preposterous but politically convincing idea that he is the victim of vengeful elected and unelected forces who, as always, remain determined to prevent him from making “America great again.” makes”. two.
Smith’s investigation will likely continue well into the new year and culminate in a presidential contest that will gain momentum — with or without a Biden leading the Democratic ticket.
Yet Smith has been described in media reports as a tenacious, seasoned prosecutor who wins convictions. That should, I think, be reassuring to those of us eager to see Trump in the dock. While the Teflon finally seems to be flaking off Teflon Don, it has shown a remarkable ability to get around the credit it deserved many times over.
Despite my nagging caution and deep-seated pessimism, I’m confident the needle has moved and Trump will be impeached — with Garland’s perfunctory approval.
But if and when that glorious day arrives, it will be in spite of the Attorney General’s furious hesitation and indecisiveness. He should not 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 threatens the already tattered fabric of America’s weak democracy.
It’s time for President Trump to be reduced to prisoner Trump. It’s now or never, America.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial view of Al Jazeera.