Garland Faces Contempt Proceedings Amid Accusations of Subpoena Hypocrisy

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Attorney General Merrick Garland, media personality Steve Bannon, and former Trump White House official Peter Navarro all share a common experience: they have each ignored congressional subpoenas.

Ignoring a subpoena is a grave matter, potentially leading to contempt charges, fines, and even imprisonment. However, so far, only Navarro and Bannon have faced repercussions. Notably, it is Garland’s Justice Department that prosecuted both men.

Yet, when Congress subpoenaed Garland to hand over an audio recording of an interview former special counsel Robert Hur conducted with President Joe Biden, Garland astonishingly refused, labeling the legislative body’s inquiry as illegitimate.

“We have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the committees get responses to their legitimate requests, but this is not one,” Garland stated last month. “To the contrary, this is one that would harm our ability in the future to successfully pursue sensitive investigations.”

This defiance triggered the House Judiciary Committee to start contempt proceedings against the attorney general. Despite this, a resolute Garland claimed he would “not be intimidated” by the contempt threat.

“I view contempt as a serious matter,” Garland remarked during a House Judiciary Committee hearing. “But I will not jeopardize the ability of our prosecutors and agents to do their jobs effectively in future investigations.”

Though Garland regards contempt and subpoena defiance as serious, his actions suggest otherwise and smack of hypocrisy. Garland has not only disregarded subpoenas himself while prosecuting Bannon and Navarro, but he has also facilitated subpoena defiance by other Department of Justice officials.

In April, the DOJ defended its tax attorneys, Mark Daly and Jack Morgan, arguing before a federal judge that their defiance of a House Judiciary Committee subpoena investigating Hunter Biden was justified. Judge Ana Reyes, appointed by Joe Biden, dismissed the defense.

“There’s a person in jail right now because you all brought a criminal lawsuit against him because he did not appear for a House subpoena,” Judge Reyes said, referring to Navarro. “I find it rich that you pursue criminal action and put people in jail for defying congressional subpoenas, then [defy subpoenas] here.”

The Department of Justice’s hypocrisy is indeed notable. Garland has created a standard that gives the department exclusive authority to deem which subpoenas are legitimate and who can defy a subpoena. In essence, it means one set of rules for Justice Department officials and another for everyone else.

This approach does not equate to equal justice under the law. Instead, it amplifies concerns that the DOJ has forsaken its traditional commitment to impartial justice in favor of partisan prosecutions.

Under Garland, the Department of Justice might as well be called the Department of Hypocrisy.

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