The prosecution in February 2020, when Trump took advantage of his acquittal in the Senate of impeachment charges and prepared to fire those who testified against him, provided only one episode of his enduring contempt for the rules of justice.
Biden said, “It won’t work for me.” “You are not the attorney of the president or the vice president. Your allegiance is not mine. It is the law, the constitution.”
For his part, Garland pointed to the destruction of the pro-Trump mob as the Electoral College votes were being counted and said: “The rule of law is not just a lawyer’s role in expression. It is the basis of our democracy. The essence of the rule of law is that similar cases are treated equally, that it does not. There is a base for the Democrats, another for the Republicans, one for friends and another for the enemies. “
Garland, 68, spoke of the aspirations of fairness and impartiality to disprove Trump’s style, his voice filled with emotion. He last appeared on the national stage in March 2016, when President Barack Obama nominated him for the Supreme Court position that opened after the sudden death of Judge Antonin Scalia. The Republican-controlled Senate blocked action on the appointment of Garland, a US appeals judge since 1997, and eventually provided the seat to Trump to hold him.
But Trump’s false assertions and attacks on democratic values were just a prelude to his current lie that he won reelection in November. He pushed thousands of his supporters to Washington this week.
Biden noted Trump’s contempt for democracy and the importance of an impartial justice ministry. He and Garland cited the post-Watergate reforms of the 1970s aimed at restoring confidence in the Department of Justice and preventing the president from interfering with day-to-day investigations.
Trump’s remark in February 2020 about being a “chief law enforcement officer” emerged when he sought a reduced sentence for his friend and political strategist Roger Stone, convicted of lying under oath in front of Congress and threatening a witness. (Trump pardoned Stone last month.)
Trump has consistently attempted to interfere with the work of the Justice Department, the FBI, and US attorneys, as well as special attorney Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections.
Over the past four years, Trump’s critics have compared his actions to the power of Watergate and President Richard Nixon’s control of the Justice Department. Nixon resigned in 1974 after trying to cover up his role in the 1972 storming of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building.
But Trump’s stance has been more methodical than accidental. Instead of supporting American democracy, he presented himself as an autocrat who desired absolute power.
However, post-Watergate reforms at the Department of Justice were on the horizon as Garland said Thursday that his “mission will be to reassert” those guarantees.
He recalled that he worked in the department for the first time in 1979 as an assistant to Attorney General Benjamin Civiliti. He later became a federal attorney and worked in the Clinton administration as a senior Department of Justice official.
On Thursday, Garland referred to Biden’s promise that he would have “the independent ability” to determine who should be on trial, based on facts and law.
“I would not have agreed that the position of attorney general would be considered under any other conditions,” Garland said.