The lawsuit in February 2020, while Trump was based on his acquittal in the Senate on impeachment charges against the American home and preparing to fire people who testified against him, offered only one episode of his enduring contempt for justice.
“You won’t work for me,” Biden said. “You are not a lawyer for the president or vice president. Your loyalty is not to me. It is to the law, the constitution.”
For his part, Garland referred to the destruction of the pro-Trump mafia as the votes of the Electoral College are counted, and said: “The rule of law is not just some lawyer’s expression. It is the very foundation of our democracy. The essence of the rule of law is that such cases are treated equally, that there is no one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans, one rule for friends and another for enemies. “
As Garland, 68, spoke of pursuit of integrity and neutrality to refute Trump’s model, his voice was full of emotion. He was last seen on the national stage in March 2016, when President Barack Obama nominated him for a Supreme Court seat opened after the sudden death of Judge Antonin Scalia. The Republican-controlled Senate blocked the appointment of Garland, a U.S. appeals judge since 1997, and eventually retained Trump’s seat.
But Trump’s false claims and attacks on democratic values were simply a prelude to his current lie that he won re-election in November. He urged thousands of his supporters to descend on Washington this week.
Biden cited Trump’s contempt for democracy and the importance of a neutral justice ministry. He and Garland cited reforms after Watergate in the 1970s aimed at restoring confidence in the Justice Department and preventing the president from interfering in daily investigations.
Trump’s remark in February 2020 that he was a “chief of police” arose when he sought a lenient sentence for his friend and political strategist Roger Stone, who was convicted of swearing in Congress and threatening witness. (Trump pardoned Stone last month.)
Trump has been constantly trying to interfere in the business of the Department of Justice, the FBI and U.S. attorneys, as well as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
The ghost of Watergate
For the past four years, critics of Trump have compared his actions to Watergate and President Richard Nixon’s control over the Department of Justice. Nixon resigned in 1974 after trying to cover up his role in the 1972 breakthrough at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building.
But Trump’s attitude is systemic rather than sporadic. Instead of upholding American democracy, he presented himself as an autocrat desiring absolute power.
Still, reforms under Watergate law at the Justice Department were in the air, as Garland said Thursday that his “mission will be to confirm” these safeguards.
He noted that he first worked in the department in 1979 as Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti. He later became a federal prosecutor and served as a senior Justice Department official in the Clinton administration.
On Thursday, Garland cited Biden’s promise that he would have “independent capacity” to decide who is prosecuted based on facts and the law.
Garland said, “I would not agree to be considered Attorney General under other circumstances.”