You would think that an attorney general who has presided over the embarrassing debacle of the Hunter Biden investigation would express contrition, or maybe a little anger at the underlings who have shamed him, when he is hauled before a congressional committee to explain his failures.
But alas, Merrick Garland is just another Mr. Magoo.
His department is ablaze but he knows nothing.
The nation’s chief law enforcement officer has no special insight into the malfeasance unfolding under his nose.
He is just an oblivious bystander, unperturbed by the tyrannical turn the DOJ has taken under his leadership, persecuting his boss’ political enemies and coddling the crooked president’s crooked relatives.
Even though Garland used to be a judge, he makes no judgments at all.
He professes to have no view about US Attorney David Weiss’ farcical five-year “investigation” of the president’s 53-year-old son, Hunter.
“I promised the Senate that I would not interfere,” he told the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday.
“I have not intruded or attempted to evaluate that, because that was the promise I made to the Senate.” What an honorable man, keeping his promises.
But he’s the ship’s captain. There is a fire in the hold, the vessel is going down, and he doesn’t even trouble himself to find out what happened.
“Have you had personal contact with anyone at FBI Headquarters about the Hunter Biden investigation?” asked Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La).
For what seemed like an eternity but was really about seven seconds, Garland looked down at his tightly clasped hands, slowly turned his head left and right as if the answer might materialize somewhere on the empty table below him, then popped his tongue, said “ahhhh,” pursed his lips, exhaled and arranged the edges of his mouth in a downward shrug, before finally looking up at Johnson with a sheepish expression and stammering: “I don’t real . . . I don’t . . . ah . . . I don’t recollect the answer to that question but the FBI works for the Justice Department?” a non sequitur delivered in a cascade of upward inflections as if he was the one asking questions, or maybe channeling a Valley Girl.
He wants us to applaud his pathological incuriosity about the corruption of Weiss’ probe, as exposed by the two valiant IRS whistleblowers, Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler. The sort of professional, nonpartisan public servants whom Garland professes to support, they are the heroes of this sordid tale.
They blew up their careers to testify about the slow-walking, the kid-glove treatment available to no other American, the tip-offs about search warrants, the constraints on investigators, the no-go zones anywhere near the Big Guy, the refusal of geolocation searches to determine if Joe really was in the room, like Hunter claimed, in his shakedown WhatsApp to a Chinese benefactor, the burying of incriminating evidence such as the FD-1023 FBI source report alleging Hunter and Joe each took a $5 million bribe from a Ukrainian oligarch, and of course, Hunter’s infamous laptop, which the FBI had authenticated and seized in December 2019, but which remained off-limits to the IRS investigators.
Not his problem, Garland communicated, as he delivered the bravura stonewalling performance we’ve come to expect from Biden appointees.
Speaking of which, his favorite line was to point out that Weiss, whom he has elevated to special counsel despite manifest failures, was a “Trump appointee.”
He said so nine times.
He seems to think that bias can be ascribed to prosecutors depending on which party appoints them. Presumably he applies that logic to himself, as a Biden appointee.
Usually smart people find it tedious to say the same thing nine times in a row, but Garland seemed to enjoy it, until the wonderful Liz Cheney-slayer Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) wiped the smirk off his face.
“Mr. Garland, one of the things you have done and repeated over and over and over again is to point out that Mr. Weiss was appointed as US attorney by President Trump, as though that somehow inoculates him from criticism by us. Is that really how this game is played, that if someone is appointed by a Republican, then they’re supposed to be on the Republican team, or if they’re appointed by a Democrat, they’re on the Democrat team? You were appointed by Mr. Biden, weren’t you? Are you on the Democrat team?”
Touché. He never said it again.
The hearing stumbled on in useless fashion, alternating between Republicans laying zingers that went nowhere and obsequious Democrats bloviating about “extreme MAGA Republicans.”
“The Justice Department treats everyone alike” was Garland’s central lie. Any criticism of his biased prosecutors is “dangerous,” he said darkly.
He did allow himself a flash of hot indignation in his opening remarks when he drew on his family’s history of persecution as Jews in what is now Belarus. His grandmother survived the Holocaust while two of her siblings perished.
“This country took her in and under that protection [and] she was able to live without fear of persecution,” he croaked. “The protection of law, the rule of law, is the foundation of our system of government.”
But if he thought those fine words would garner him soft treatment from the committee, Ukrainian born Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) deftly turned the tables on him.
“You had a very moving statement about your grandparents coming here from Belarus to live in the country without fear of persecution,” she said.
“I grew up in a very similar country, Ukraine now, and when I came here as a young person, I believed in the value as an American not to be afraid of my government . . . Are you aware that a lot of Americans are now afraid of being prosecuted by your department? Are you aware of that?“
Voters sick and tired
Garland started whining about “constant attacks on the department,” but she interrupted.
“Not attacks . . . a lot of good Americans from my district came here [on Jan. 6] because they are sick and tired of this government not serving them. They came with strollers and the kids, and there was a chaotic situation because the proper security wasn’t provided. [And then] FBI agents showed up to people’s houses. You have in my district in my town, FBI phone numbers all over [saying] please call [and inform on people].
“People are truly afraid. This is a big problem when people are afraid of their