DOJ ‘will not be intimidated’ by partisan attacks, AG Garland tells House panel

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US Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies during a hearing of the House Committee on the Judiciary oversight of the US Department of Justice, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, September 20, 2023.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Merrick Garland delivered a full-throated defense of federal law enforcement officers and the Department of Justice in testimony Wednesday before the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee.

“We will not be intimidated. We will do our jobs free from outside interference. And we will not back down from defending our democracy,” Garland said.

The highly anticipated hearing pitted Garland against a committee whose primary mission under the leadership of Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan has been to challenge the DOJ’s practices through a partisan lens.

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Even the official announcement of the oversight hearing underscored Jordan’s political agenda, explaining that lawmakers intended to “examine how the Justice Department has become politicized and weaponized under the leadership of Attorney General Merrick Garland.”

Garland, however, pushed back against Jordan and turned the tables on House Republicans, who have used their majority to launch counter-investigations into the prosecution of former President Donald Trump and the unrelated prosecution of President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

“Our job is not to do what is politically convenient. Our job is not to take orders from the President, from Congress, or from anyone else, about who or what to criminally investigate,” the attorney general said.

Garland took particular issue with the singling out of specific DOJ officials for public criticism. Among those officials are special counsel Jack Smith, who leads a team prosecuting Trump on 44 felony counts in two separate cases, and U.S. Attorney for Delaware David Weiss, a Trump appointee who is overseeing the prosecution of Biden’s son Hunter on gun and tax charges.

Garland recently appointed Weiss special counsel for the probe of Hunter Biden.

Trump and House Republicans have railed against Smith, with Trump repeatedly accusing Smith of being “deranged,” and most recently of seeking to “take away my right of speaking freely and openly” after Smith requested a partial gag order of the former president.

Jordan mentioned Smith by name in his opening statement Wednesday, saying, “Jack Smith, the guy who a few years ago was looking for ways to prosecute … victims of the weaponized government.”

Garland said, “All of us at the Justice Department recognize that with this work comes public scrutiny, criticism, and legitimate oversight.”

“But singling out individual career public servants who are just doing their jobs is dangerous — particularly at a time of increased threats to the safety of public servants and their families.”

This is breaking news, please check back for updates.

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