January 7, 2022
In remarks delivered one day before the first anniversary of the January 6 Capitol riot, Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized a commitment to the rule of law and to following the facts wherever they lead, reports The New York Times.
Facing criticism from Democrats and a few Republicans to hold former President Donald J. Trump accountable for his role in inspiring the riot at the Capitol. Garland vowed on Wednesday that the Justice Department would pursue wrongdoing “at any level,” saying he would defend democratic institutions from attack and threats of violence.
Speaking at Department of Justice headquarters, Garland said:
As we prepare to mark a solemn anniversary tomorrow, it is a fitting time to reaffirm that we at the Department of Justice will do everything in our power to defend the American people and American democracy. The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law, whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead. We understand that there are questions about how long the investigation will take and about what exactly we are doing. As long as it takes and whatever it takes for justice to be done consistent with the facts and the law. I understand that this may not be the answer some are looking for.
The attorney general also obliquely addressed critics who have urged him to disclose more about the department’s inquiry, including whether investigators are scrutinizing Trump.
He reiterated that the department would not share details about its findings, even as investigators have issued 5,000 subpoenas and search warrants, inspected over 20,000 hours of video footage and sifted through an estimated 15 terabytes of data. “I understand that this may not be the answer some are looking for,” he said. “But we will and we must speak through our work. Anything else jeopardizes the viability of our investigations and the civil liberties of our citizens.”
While the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack has signaled an openness to making a criminal referral to the department if it comes across evidence that Trump or others broke the law, Garland did not mention Trump or any specific investigation the department might be pursuing.
Garland has never given any substantive public indication of whether or how aggressively the department might be building a case against Trump or his advisers, and it is not clear what charges they could be subject to.
Some Democrats have openly pushed Garland to make clear that he intends to act.
Research contact: @nytimes