Attorney General Merrick Garland tells lawmakers the Justice Department 'will not be intimidated'

In a fiery hearing Tuesday, Garland pushed back on allegations that the Justice Department is acting politically.
Merrick Garland
Posted at 7:44 PM, Jun 04, 2024

At a hearing Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Merrick Garland told lawmakers he "will not be intimidated" by allegations that the Justice Department is acting politically.

Republicans who lead the committee alleged in the hearing that the Justice Department is taking direction from President Joe Biden to prosecute former President Donald Trump.

“I will not be intimidated,” Garland said. “And the Justice Department will not be intimidated. We will continue to do our jobs free from political influence. And we will not back down from defending our democracy.”

Trump faces two federal cases led by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith: one that charges Trump with retaining classified information and obstructing justice when officials attempted to retrieve the materials from his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, and one connected to the Jan. 6 insurrection that charges him with a scheme to stop the peaceful transfer of power after he lost the presidential election.

In a separate state case, headed by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Trump was found guilty of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records for attempting to disguise payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels. That case has no relation to the pending federal cases, and the Justice Department was not involved.

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Republican members leading the House panel also recently moved to hold Garland in contempt after the Biden administration declined to release audio of the president's interview with special counsel Robert Hur. The Justice Department says it's concerned the audio could be used to create "deepfake" messages and other deliberate disinformation.

Garland pushed back on what he described as this latest attack and reiterated that the Justice Department is focused on upholding the law.

"I view contempt as a serious matter,” Garland said. “But I will not jeopardize the ability of our prosecutors and agents to do their jobs effectively in future investigations."