Merrick Garland and Justice Department push back against ‘baseless’ Republican claims about Trump prosecution

Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department are pushing back against Republicans who have falsely accused the department of orchestrating the recent prosecution of former President Donald Trump in a New York state court.

Garland consulted the pages of Washington Post Tuesday with an op-ed in which he criticized what he described as “an escalation of attacks that go far beyond legitimate and necessary public scrutiny, criticism and oversight” from Republicans. He called the attacks “baseless, personal and dangerous” and noted that they directly inspired threats of violence against his department’s staff.

The AG also denounced threats from congressional Republicans who want to interrupt the work of the department investigating Trump. He said these attacks “take the form of conspiracy theories designed and disseminated with the aim of undermining public confidence in the judicial process itself.”

This includes “false allegations” regarding the prosecution of Trump by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose work resulted in the ex-president being convicted on 24 counts by a jury of his peers earlier this month.

Other threats, Garland said, have been directed at his department “in the form of dangerous lies about the FBI’s law enforcement operations that increase the risks to our agents.” Garland referenced similarly false claims by Trump and his allies regarding the FBI’s execution of a search warrant at the former president’s Florida home in August 2022. He added that “false claims claims that the department “politicizes its work to somehow influence the outcome of an election” are also harmful, adding that the department “will not be intimidated by these attacks.”

Garland’s op-ed appeared the same day that Deputy Attorney General Carlos Uriarte sent a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan in which he directly refuted Republican allegations that Bragg’s lawsuit against Trump in New York were in some way directed or controlled by federal officials.

Uriarte noted that the Justice Department “generally does not go to great lengths to refute conspiratorial speculation” because that lends credibility to such talk, but he cited Garland’s “commitment to transparency” while explaining that the Justice Department had “taken extraordinary steps” to make clear that there is “no basis” for Republican allegations of collusion between the department and Bragg or his office.

The deputy attorney general informed Jordan that an “extensive search” of all emails sent or received between January 21, 2021 – the date President Joe Biden took office – and the day Trump was convicted of 34 crimes revealed no communication “between officials.” in the leadership of the department, including all political appointees in those offices, and the District Attorney’s Office with respect to any investigation or prosecution of the former President.”

” It’s not surprising. The District Attorney’s Office is a separate entity from the department. The department does not supervise the work of the district attorney’s office, approve its charging decisions or try its cases. The department has no control over the district attorney, just like the district attorney has no control over the department,” he said.

Uriarte also told Jordan that the department searched the old email account of Mathew Colangelo, a former DOJ attorney who left his post as acting head of the department’s civil division to work as a prosecutor in Bragg’s office . He said no communications were found between Colangelo and the New York District Attorney or his staff during Colangelo’s tenure at the DOJ.

He further noted that such a finding was also not “surprising” because Colangelo’s responsibilities within the Justice Department “were to oversee the civil litigation components that fall under the Associate’s Office, including including the Civil Division, Antitrust Division, Civil Rights and Environmental Division, and Natural Resources Division” rather than any role related to criminal prosecution.

He added that despite Republicans’ claims to the contrary, Colangelo was not “sent” to Bragg’s office.

“Accusations of wrongdoing made without evidence – and in fact contrary to – undermine confidence in the justice system and have contributed to an increase in threats of violence and attacks against law enforcement officials and prosecutors. career,” he said.

“Our extraordinary efforts to respond to your speculations should put them to rest.”