Posts tagged with "Merrick Garland"

Federal officers execute sunrise search of Rudy Giuliani’s apartment and office

april 29, 2021

Federal investigators in Manhattan executed search warrants early on Wednesday, April 28, at the home and office of Rudy Giuliani—the former New York City mayor who became President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer—thereby stepping up a criminal investigation into Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine, three people with knowledge of the investigation told The New York Times.

The investigators seized Giuliani’s electronic devices and searched his apartment on Madison Avenue and his office on Park Avenue at about 6 a.m., two of the sources said.

Executing a search warrant is an extraordinary move for prosecutors to take against a lawyer, let alone a lawyer for a former president, the Times noted. It represents a major turning point in the long-running investigation into Giuliani, who as mayor steered New York through the Sept. 11 attacks and earlier in his career led the same U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan that is now investigating him.

Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert J. Costello, called the searches unnecessary because his client had offered to answer questions from prosecutors—except those regarding his privileged communications with the former president.

“What they did today was legal thuggery,” Costello said. “Why would you do this to anyone—let alone, someone who was the associate attorney general, United States attorney, the mayor of New York City and the personal lawyer to the 45th president of the United States?”

The federal authorities have been largely focused on whether Giuliani illegally lobbied the Trump Administration in 2019 on behalf of Ukrainian officials and oligarchs; who at the same time were helping Giuliani search for dirt on Trump’s political rivals (among them, Joe Biden, who was then a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination).

The United States Attorney’s office in Manhattan and the F.B.I. had for months sought to secure a search warrant for Giuliani’s phones.

Under Mr. Trump, senior political appointees in the Justice Department repeatedly sought to block such a warrant, The New York Times reported, slowing the investigation as it was gaining momentum last year. After Merrick Garland was confirmed as President Biden’s attorney general, the Justice Department lifted its objection to the search.

While the warrants are not an explicit accusation of wrongdoing against Giuliani, the wararants show that the investigation has entered an aggressive new phase. To obtain a search warrant, investigators need to persuade a judge they have sufficient reason to believe that a crime was committed and that the search would turn up evidence of the crime.

Spokespersons for the F.B.I. and the U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment.

Research contact: @nytimes

Merrick Garland is confirmed as U.S. attorney general

March 12, 2021

The U.S. Senate voted 70-30 on March 11 to confirm Merrick Garland as the Biden Administration’s attorney general—putting a respected jurist and experienced former prosecutor in charge of a Justice Department poised to confront a rising threat of domestic extremism amid a nationwide reckoning on race and policing, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Mr. Garland, 68 years old, was hailed by both Democrats and Republicans as uniquely equipped to restore morale, stability and institutional integrity to a Justice Department roiled by political storms during the Trump Administration.

Twenty Republicans—led by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)—joined all 50 Senate Democrats in confirming Garland. As majority leader just before Trump’s term in office, McConnell had blocked President Barack Obama’s nomination of Garland to the Supreme Court in 2016.

Now minority leader, McConnell said in a statement before the vote: “I’m voting to confirm Judge Garland because of his long reputation as a straight shooter and legal expert. His left-of-center perspective has been within the legal mainstream.”

According to the Journal, Garland, who spent 24 years on the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, was sworn in on Thursday. He has said he would combat extremist violence and make a first priority of an extensive federal investigation into the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

He has cited his own experience overseeing prosecutions into several major acts of domestic terrorism, including the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people. A senior Justice Department official at the time, Garland was personally involved in the investigation, which he has said solidified for him the urgency and complexity of the domestic terror threat.

While the investigation into the January 6 attack is expected to continue largely unchanged under new leadership, Garland will oversee what is expected to be a dramatic shift in the Justice Department’s approach to a series of other issues—from civil-rights enforcement and police reform, to the use of the federal death penalty,and the level of discretion prosecutors have in charging crimes.

Garland said during his confirmation hearing that he would pursue strong enforcement of civil-rights laws—focusing on hate-crimes prosecutions, voting rights, and the equitable treatment of minorities in the criminal-justice system after last year’s nationwide Black Lives Matter protests.

He said he planned to address “the problem of mass incarceration” and signaled that his Justice Department would show leniency for some lower-level drug offenders, reversing Trump administration policy.

Garland also expressed deep skepticism about the use of the federal death penalty, which Trump officials revived after a nearly 20-year hiatus and President Joe Biden has said he would end.

Research contact: @WSJ

Pew poll: Supreme Court is ‘most important’ issue for midterms

September 28, 2018

Seventy-six percent of registered voters—both Democrats and Republicans—say that Supreme Court appointments are “very important” to their votes in the midterms, according to findings of a  Pew Research Center poll released on September 26.

According to Pew, the result marks the first time since August 2004 that the economy has not been the issue most often deemed “very important” to voters. Indeed, the economy has routinely been the top-cited “very important” factor for voters, almost always followed by healthcare and terrorism.

The poll was conducted between September 18 and 24—a time when news reports were dominated by allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh—which may have boosted the court’s standing in the eyes of voters, the researchers said.

Another three-quarters of registered voters say that healthcare is “very important” in the latest Pew poll, followed by 74% for the economy, 68% for gun policy, 67% for Medicare, 66% for Social Security, 66% for taxes, 65% for immigration, 65% for the treatment of racial and ethnic minorities, 63% for the environment, 62% for terrorism, 60% for the federal budget deficit, 55% for trade policy, 53% for abortion, 53% for drug addition; and 47% for the treatment of gay, lesbian, and transgender people.

Pew made the distinction that its pollsters do not “usually” ask about the Supreme Court in these surveys. The only other time Pew has added Supreme Court appointments into the mix of issues was in June 2016, when 63% said it was very important to their vote in November, compared to the 76% now.

The reason: In June 2016, President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland had been waiting three months for the Senate to review his nomination. No hearings were held before Obama left office in January 2017.

More Democrats (81%) view Supreme Court appointments as an important issue for their vote than Republicans (72%). The most-referenced important issue for Republicans was the economy, which drew 85% of their registered voters. Eighty-eight percent of Democrats said that healthcare was the issue most on their minds, while 60% of Republicans agreed.

Research contact: bjohnson@pewresearch.org