During an investigation by the Department of Justice attack on The Capitol is approaching former President Donald J. Trump, this prompted persistent and cautionary reminders of backlash caused investigations into Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election. campaign.
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland intends on avoiding even the smallest mistakes that could spoil current investigation, provide Mr. Trump’s defenders with reasons to claim that the investigation was motivated by hostility, or nullify his efforts to rehabilitate the department. reputation after the political war of the Trump years.
Mr. Garland never seriously thought about concentrating on Mr. Trump from the very beginning, as investigators have done before with Mr Trump and with Mrs. Clinton during her email investigation, people talking next to him.
As a result, the investigators took more methodical approach, careful ascent up chain of personnel behind plan for 2020 on the name of fake tablets of Trump Electors in battlefield conditions that were won Joseph R. Biden Jr.
As prosecutors delve into the orbit of Mr. Trump, former the president and his allies in Congress will almost certainly blame the Justice Department and the FBI. of politically motivated witch hunt.
Sample for those attacks, both Mr. Garland and FBI director Christopher Wray, well know were “Crossfire Hurricane,” an investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties, which Trump continues to dismiss as a prank.
Mistakes and decisions from that period in part, led to an increase in layers of supervision, including policy changes in the Ministry of Justice. If a decision we made open criminal investigation into Mr. Trump after he announced his intention run in by the 2024 elections, he suggests, department heads will have to sign off on any request within the internal rule established by Attorney General William P. Barr and approved by Mr. Garland.
“Attorney General Garland and those investigating high-level efforts to overturn results of the 2020 elections are acutely aware of how any mistake, whether by the FBI or prosecutors, will be amplified and exploited for political purposes,” said Mary B. McCord, a senior Justice Department official. official during the Obama administration. “I expect there is added layers of review and check of every investigation step”.
Key revelations from the January 6 hearing
Making a case against Trump. A House committee is investigating the case Jan. 6. attack lies out comprehensive narrative of President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to cancel the 2020 election. Here main topics that have emerged so far from the eight public hearings:
Mr Ray seems to keep going with same level of caution, in hope of armor bureau against future attacks by doing sure his agents act according to the rules and inform the leadership of the Department of Justice.
This means following the FBI’s strict guidelines. rules and not just do the right thing, but do it in right way’ Mr. Ray often said. it also means that Mr. Ray would not have gone it alone, as his predecessor, James B. Comey, did.
Usually aggressive bureau that used all investigative tools in this is arsenal during the Russian investigation, by the beginning of autumn 2021, a few months after the details, he had not even opened a case against fake voters. of the wide-ranging scheme was publicly known, two former – said representatives of federal law enforcement agencies.
In 2015, on a wave of indignation over mrs clinton use of personal email account, senior FBI officials – no consultation with senior officials of the department, including Mr. Comey, opened criminal investigation into whether she mishandled secret information.
In May 2017, the FBI opened an investigation into Mr. Trump’s filibustering. on own, catching leadership of ministry of justice off security and installation off political firestorm. decision also fueled suspicions of Mr. Trump and his supporters believe that the so-called deep state wanted undermine his presidency.
in aftermath of Mrs. Clinton and her supporters blamed Mr. Comey for Mr. Trump’s election victory, arguing that his unusual public status statements of investigating her emails inadvertently affected the outcome of in race. new the president would soon carp with in the director too.
Mr. Trump’s readiness attack The Justice Department was the front of intelligence for officials in department and bureau as they struggled to respond to the January 6 attack and other efforts to reverse Mr. Trump’s losses, current as well as former officials said.
The lawyers in charge of the department at the time, including Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen and Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard P. Donoghue, managed to prevent Trump from usurping them. power so he could remain in office illegal. They had no illusions about his willingness to interfere with any investigation.
They are also knew that many of them decisions someday will made public. This reinforced their tendency to make no bold moves before President Biden team took over, in in event that their actions were subject to public scrutiny in oversight hearings – especially if the Republicans regain control of Congress.
The day the rioters stormed the Capitol, Mr. Garland was finishing his speech on in rule of law. He looked on television as Congress became crime scene in which he soon need research.
Each who was a witness attack “understands if you didn’t understand before, rule of the law is not just some kind of lawyer of phrase, said Mr. Garland at the ceremony next day. “Failure to do clear in word and deed that our law is not an instrument of partisan target” would jeopardize the country, he added.
Mr. Garland pondered the Justice Department’s decision. role in democracy since the 1970s when he worked for Attorney General Benjamin R. Civiletti help codify changes which dealt with presidential abuses of the Watergate era of power.
At the end of March, when Mr. Garland took over branch, he hugged the bottom-up tactics already used by Trump-appointed Acting U.S. Attorney in Washington: round up and detain the attackers, and then, perhaps, their messages and interrogations will give information it would be lead them more powerful goals.
This approach summed up up by mantra of investigation of crimes people- sometimes led to tension between top officials and the federal prosecutors in Washington who run day-to-day investigation.
From startMr. Garland and Chief Deputy Lisa O. Monaco – former senior official in the FBI and attentive to detail former federal prosecutor – set bar is high. But they didn’t limit prosecutors from following paths they believe are supported by the evidence: Ms Monaco urged prosecutors allocate additional resources to funding investigations of rioters and potential ties to foreign governments, according to former department official.
The department didn’t seem to get down to business right away. on public revelations made in the fall of In 2021, Trump’s top lawyer John Eastman promoted a fake voter scheme.
But gradually, mostly hidden from public view began to pursue this lead and others, which eventually led them to more directly question Mr. Trump’s involvement.
At that time, Christopher R. Cavanaugh, who acquired extensive domestic terrorism experience as a prosecutor in Charlottesville, Virginia after deadly far-right rally there in 2017, was assigned to lead the sprawling investigation on 6 January. The investigation concerned on almost every state in countries and included hundreds of suspects.
When Mr Cavanaugh left in role after hundreds of arrests in early October to become a US Attorney in Charlottesville, replaced by Thomas P. Windom, an aggressive, though little-known federal prosecutor from Maryland. who It was also handled high-profile domestic terrorism cases.
Mr Windom expanded voter investigation, according to people with knowledge of situation. He also followed closely on separate request of the department inspector general in Geoffrey Clark, former Ministry of Justice official who played a central role in Mr Trump’s unsuccessful attempt in end of 2020 to strengthen the country’s leadership prosecutors in supporting his claims of election fraud.
Both of these investigations were already is gaining momentum as the House of Representatives committee considering Jan. 6 accelerated its far-reaching more public investigation – one intended to put pressure on Mr. Garland to moving more quickly pursue Mr. Trump.
By April prosecutors received emails from senior officials in Trump White House.
In June the inspector general orders received for electronic devices owned by Mr. Clark, Mr. Eastman and Ken Klukowski, another former Ministry of Justice official. Lawyer for Mr Klukowski said his client is fully cooperating with The Justice Department will continue to do so.
As well as on Wednesday after news broke that two main assistants former Vice President Mike Pence appeared before grand jury, Mr. Windom filed a notice with US District Court in New Mexico.
It turned out that the federal agent received second search warrant earlier this month for telephone of Mr Eastman – first time of occurrence of Mr Windom’s name on a public case management in Trump case.
As a result of these search warrants, DOJ set up the so-called filter team to deal with with any potentially privileged information Gleaned from these warrants, according to the application.
Previously, it was only known that the department inspector general received a search warrant for Mr. Eastman for a narrower internal department investigation that began in the aftermath of the January 6 riots.
In his public statements, Mr. Garland demonstrated awareness of extreme dangers for his department and the country as a whole, face as investigators close in on once and maybe future a presidential candidate whose popularity is strongly tied to his claim that he is being persecuted by the Washington establishment.
Last week Mr. Garland sat in his conference room at the Department of Justice, surrounded by oil portraits. of two predecessors he admires – Robert F. Kennedy and Edward H. Levy – to declare that no one, not even Mr. Trump, was “above the law.”
The statement he has made in public used to be widespread on social media.
But just before that, Mr. Garland said something like this, in in some ways better reflects his cautious approach to the investigation, which he described as the largest and most important. in department 152-year history.
“We must hold every person accountable who criminally responsible for trying to cancel legitimate elections, and we must do it in a way filled with integrity and professionalism, way The Justice Department is investigating,” he said.
“Both of it’s necessary in to attain justice and defend our democracy.”
Michael S. Schmidt as well as Alan Feuer made a report.