Garland defends Justice Department backing Trump-era decisions
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday dismissed criticism of his agency’s handling of court cases involving former President Trump, saying that instances where he sided with the previous administration’s legal arguments were part of his “adherence to the rule of law.”
At a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Garland was asked to respond to criticism against the Justice Department’s (DOJ) efforts to fight the release of an internal legal memo from the Trump era and its defense of the former president in a defamation suit from a woman who accused him of rape.
The attorney general said his department is handling those cases without political considerations in mind.
“The job of the Justice Department in making decisions in law is not to back any administration, previous or present; our job is to represent the American people,” he said. “Our job in doing so is to ensure adherence to the rule of law, which is a fundamental requirement of a democracy.”
The DOJ has disappointed Trump critics and Democratic lawmakers by repeatedly siding with the Trump administration in court, frustrating those who believe that former Attorney General William Barr had weaponized the department to further Trump’s personal and political interests.
The first few months of Garland’s tenure has shown that the former federal judge has been hesitant to completely disavow the legal work put forth under Barr that outraged Democrats and that President Biden campaigned against last year.
But Garland insisted on Wednesday that he has pushed to change the department.
“Matters of policy of course are completely different and that explains why we have reversed policies of the previous administration many times over the last three months and why we have initiated our own policies that are distinctly different from those of the previous administration,” Garland said.
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