- Attorney General Merrick Garland said his memo won’t hinder Jan. 6 investigations.
- Legal experts say the Garland memo was a routine reminder to avoid influencing the 2022 elections.
- Authorities searched the home of a Trump administration lawyer and seized another lawyer’s phone.
WASHINGTON – Attorney General Merrick Garland reiterated Wednesday he would pursue investigations into the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, by following the facts and the law, after some advocates worried a recent memo signaled he would avoid investigating former President Donald Trump.
“No person is above the law in this country,” Garland said. “I can’t say it any more clearly than that. There is nothing in the principles of prosecution and any other factors which prevent us from investigating anyone – anyone – who is criminally responsible for an attempt to undo a democratic election.”
Garland has previously said he would follow the facts and law while investigating the attack.
His comments came after MSNBC host Rachel Maddow reported Monday on a May 25 Garland memo that reminded prosecutors to remain neutral and impartial during the election year.
Garland referred to a memo Feb. 5, 2020, from Trump’s then-Attorney General Bill Barr that said in part no investigation may be opened of a declared candidate for president or senior advisers.
Maddow said Trump’s potential declaration of candidacy for 2024announced to several reporters, is a way to put “as many roadblocks as possible in front of any prosecution of himself.”
But legal experts say attorneys general of both parties have issued similar memos for years to avoid investigating interference in politics. A flashpoint came when then-FBI Director James Comey announced he was reopening an investigation into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton days before the 2016 election, which she argued could have tipped the results.
The Justice Department is investigating two lawyers who supported Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. authorities searched the home of former assistant attorney general Jeffrey Clark, who drafted a letter to officials in six states to overturn their election results. And authorities seized the cellphone of John Eastman, one of Trump’s personal lawyers who developed a scheme to have then-Vice President Mike Pence singlehandedly reject voters from states Joe Biden won.
More about witness testimony:Ketchup, regrets, blood and anger: A guide to the Jan. 6 hearings’ witnesses and testimony
Doug Jones, a former US attorney and Democratic US senator, said getting approval is standard practice for high-level investigations such as Cabinet officials or governors.
“That is standard practice, folks, if you’re talking about a high government official,” Jones said in video tweeted in reaction to Garland’s memo. “I don’t think this is going to stop the Department of Justice from conducting any investigations that are currently ongoing that are the result of what happened before, during and after what happened Jan. 6.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism