AG Garland Faces GOP Critics Amid DOJ Scrutiny

On Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland is expected to meet his sternest critics when House Republicans capitalize on a standard oversight session to probe him regarding their assertions of the Justice Department’s “misuse” during President Joe Biden’s administration.

For the first time in two years, Garland is scheduled to appear before the House Judiciary Committee during a crucial period in the Justice Department’s chronicle. Currently, he supervises two legal actions involving Donald Trump, marking the first instance of a former president confronting criminal charges, along with a separate case involving Hunter Biden, the current president’s son.

Garland intends to emphasize the autonomy of his role, stating in his anticipated remarks, “We are not mandated to follow directives from the president, the Congress, or any other entity in regards to criminal investigations.”

Ahead of the session, the committee’s Republican members remained reserved about their line of questioning for Garland, hinting to The Associated Press on Tuesday that they wish to maintain secrecy until the hearing unfolds.

Nevertheless, Garland is bracing for a series of contentious queries concerning the ongoing criminal cases against Trump and Hunter Biden. This comes at a juncture where both political and personal attacks on officers and their families seem to be escalating, compelling him to vouch for the nation’s premier law enforcement institution.

In his planned statement, Garland acknowledges the public scrutiny and critical reviews that accompany the responsibilities of the Justice Department, but warns against targeting individual public servants who are performing their duties, especially in the wake of heightened risks to public servant security.

Meanwhile, Democrats intend to function as a “veracity team,” countering what they perceive as Republican propaganda and their consistent support for Trump, who appears to be the leading GOP contender to oppose Biden in the forthcoming election. They accuse Republicans of diverting attention from Trump’s legal hurdles to cast an adverse light on Biden.

In this context, Representative Adam Schiff, a prominent Democrat in the committee, asserted his intent to use this platform to underline the negative impacts of such tactics on the justice system, accusing the GOP of jeopardizing national institutions to defend their contentious presidential candidate.

This hearing arrives shortly after Speaker Kevin McCarthy initiated an impeachment inquiry against President Biden, spotlighting the Justice Department’s approach towards Hunter Biden’s prolonged case in particular.

Despite this, the White House discarded the impeachment inquiry as unfounded, steering discussions towards policy matters instead. Contrarily, Hunter Biden’s legal representatives have aggressively counteracted GOP criticisms, recently initiating a lawsuit against the IRS following allegations by two of its agents concerning the investigation’s management, relayed to Congress.

The GOP maintains that Trump’s and Biden’s Justice Departments have neglected to scrutinize the various charges against Hunter Biden adequately, encompassing his tenure at Ukrainian energy firm Burisma and his tax reports in California and Washington D.C.

In response, Garland plans to assert his allegiance to the American populace, distancing himself from being perceived as a representative of the president or a legislative enforcer.

In the midst of these developments, David Weiss, the U.S. Attorney for Delaware appointed by Trump and retained by Garland to negate accusations of political manipulation, has been spearheading the Hunter Biden investigation. Recently, Weiss indicted Hunter Biden on federal firearm allegations, setting the stage for a potential trial as the 2024 election approaches.

In a recent turn of events, the Republican heads of the Oversight, Judiciary, and Ways and Means committees commenced a probe into Weiss’ administration of the case, initially instituted in 2018. This was spurred by claims made in May by two IRS agents who testified before Congress that the Justice Department unjustly intervened in their duties.

The case witnessed another twist when Gary Shapley, a seasoned IRS agent involved, revealed to Congress that Weiss had disclaimed responsibility for the decision to press charges against Hunter Biden in October 2022. However, this claim has been contested by two FBI agents present at the same meeting, who denied any memory of Weiss making such a statement.