Where’s the attorney general? On perhaps the most serious threat facing the country, Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandRepublican spin on Biden is off the mark All eyes on Garland after Bannon contempt vote Trustmark Bank to pay million 'redlining' fine MORE seems to be asleep on the job.
Let’s face it, we’re in trouble. Led by Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSix big off-year elections you might be missing Twitter suspends GOP Rep. Banks for misgendering trans health official Meghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity' MORE, both while he was still in the White House and ever since, anti-democratic forces are waging war on America’s most sacred political institutions. Our democracy itself is under attack. We’re not creeping toward, we’re already smack dab in the middle of, a constitutional crisis. And Merrick Garland’s doing nothing about it.
Any doubts about the threat to democracy were erased last week with release of the Senate Judiciary Committee report on the insurrection of Jan. 6. As well-documented in the report, the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters didn’t spontaneously occur on Jan. 6. It was the inevitable end game of two months of attempts to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election, all coordinated by the Trump White House.
We knew about the bulk of those efforts: over 60 frivolous lawsuits filed to assert election fraud; pressure on state legislatures in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin; calls by the president himself imploring election officials in Georgia to miraculously “find” enough votes to make him the winner; pressure on Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceObama looks to give new momentum to McAuliffe The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat Biden, Trump tied in potential 2024 match-up: poll MORE to reject the outcome of the Electoral College vote.
What’s new in the Senate Judiciary report is the account of a previously-unreported Oval Office meeting of Trump with top DOJ and White House lawyers on Jan. 3 — where over the course of three hours Trump threatened to fire Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen unless he agreed to order the Justice Department to pressure states to overturn the results of the 2020 election because of alleged (and non-existent) massive voter fraud. Only after Rosen and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and their top deputies threatened to resign en masse did Trump back down. The report shows “just how close we came to a constitutional crisis,” said Judiciary Chairman Dick DurbinDick DurbinManchin: Negotiators to miss Friday target for deal on reconciliation bill Democrats look for plan B on filibuster The Memo: Cuts to big bill vex Democrats MORE (D-Ill.).
But, of course, Donald Trump did not entirely relent. Three days later, at a rally on the Ellipse, he again claimed the election was illegitimate and unleashed his supporters on the Capitol. He continues to insist, as recently as last Saturday night in Iowa, that he, not Biden, won the last election. Republican politicians running for reelection are forced to endorse the “Big Lie.” Meanwhile, legislators in many states — again, at Trump’s bidding — are undermining the democratic process by passing bills allowing the state legislature, in future presidential elections, to reject the popular vote and name their own slate of presidential electors.
So far, the Justice Department’s done a good job of tracking down those who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. According to USA Today, the FBI has filed charges against more than 600 Trumpers in over 40 states and arrests continue, almost daily.
But what’s missing is — and where Merrick Garland is AWOL — is any action to hold accountable the man behind it all. It’s not enough to round up the protestors. What about their ringleader?
Attorney General Garland should have already appointed a special prosecutor to investigate possible criminal charges against Donald Trump. What’s he waiting for? This is not about playing politics. This is about defending democracy.
For almost a year now, Trump has led efforts to overturn the last election and undermine any future elections. This is sedition. This is an attack on the United States itself. And for our democracy to survive, Trump must pay the consequences. Merrick Garland, do your job!
Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”