Attorney General Merrick Garland stressed that he is committed to investigating the events of Jan. 6 in comments marking his first anniversary leading the Justice Department on Thursday.
Last week, the Jan. 6 Select Committee alleged that former President Trump and his allies “engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.” Lawyers for the committee alleged in a court filing that the former president and key allies engaged in criminal acts in trying to pressure former Vice President Pence to overturn the results of the 2020 election. According to the committee, Trump’s criminal culpability may include: obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and common law fraud.
Some Democrats in Congress, which include members of the committee, urged the Justice Department to step up its investigation to look more closely at Trump’s Big Lie efforts, arguing there is a good faith basis to believe Trump committed unlawful acts with his pressure campaign aimed at Pence.
In an exclusive interview with NPR published Thursday, Garland called the Capitol insurrection “the most urgent investigation in the history of the Justice Department.” Garland said the DOJ won’t avoid cases that are “political or cases that are controversial or sensitive.”
“What we are avoiding is making decisions on a political basis, on a partisan basis,” Garland told NPR.
“We begin with the cases that are right in front of us with the overt actions and then we build from there,” Garland continued. “And that is a process that we will continue to build until we hold everyone accountable who committed criminal acts with respect to January 6.”
Garland also stressed the amount of resources being dedicated to investigating the events of Jan. 6 across the country, with every FBI office and almost every U.S. attorney’s office in the U.S. making efforts to unravel the conspiracy behind the deadly Capitol insurrection.
“We’ve issued thousands of subpoenas, seized and examined thousands of electronic devices, examined terabytes of data, thousands of hours of videos. People are working every day, 24-7, and are fully aware of how important this is,” Garland told NPR. “This had to do with the interference with the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another. And it doesn’t get more important than that.”
Garland later reiterated his commitment to investigating the events of Jan. 6 in remarks about his first year in office on Thursday morning.
“We do not shy away from cases that are controversial, or sensitive, or political,” Garland told reporters. “To do that would undermine an element of the rule of law.”
More than a year after the insurrection, the DOJ has not signaled that it plans to investigate Trump and figures in his inner circle in the conspiracy to subvert the 2020 election.
On Sunday, Committee member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) implored the DOJ to take action against Trump’s Big Lie efforts — particularly, the former president’s infamous call with Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger (R) to “find” nonexistent votes.
“I do think that the Justice Department ought to be looking at these issues and ought to be investigating in particular — just to give one very graphic example — the former president on the phone with the secretary of state in Georgia demanding that he find 11,780 votes that didn’t exist, but the precise number he would need to overtake President Biden,” Schiff said.
“I think if anyone else had engaged in that conversation, they would be under investigation and it should be no different for the former president,” Schiff continued.
Schiff noted that despite the DOJ “diligently pursuing” Capitol insurrectionists, the department has not taken a look into “multiple lines” of efforts to overturn the election results that “may have violated the law.”