President Joe Biden is looking remarkably Trumpian when it comes to handling the US attorney general: Now as under the last guy, an AG who seems to show any independence from the White House’s political desires can expect a frontal assault.
Witness the bevy of nameless White House aides hinting in a Wall Street Journal article that the relationship between Biden and Merrick Garland has moved “into resignation and distrust,” a true “deep freeze.”
Garland’s sins include appointing a special counsel to probe first son Hunter’s shady activities who then indicted Hunter on gun charges after his initial, unprecedented sweetheart plea deal fell apart.
Never mind that the special counsel is Delaware US Attorney David Weiss, who slow-walked the Hunter probe for years (clearly at the behest of central Justice, the White House House and likely the Delaware establishment).
Or that the gun charges come only after intense congressional scrutiny and the embarrassing meltdown of the deal Weiss & Co. tried to let Hunter slide with.
Garland also had the temerity to appoint a special counsel when Joe’s questionable retention and loosey-goosey storage of classified documents exploded into the public eye.
Can’t have that — thus the resort to leaks to send a warning shot over to the Justice Department.
Brings you right back to then-President Donald Trump’s now-notorious 2018 complaint that “my guys” at the “Trump Justice Department” under then-AG Jeff Sessions wouldn’t simply do whatever he wanted.
(Which in that case, by the way, was releasing a memo arguing correctly that the Russiagate probe was based on shoddy, politically driven evidence.)
The press went wild when Trump talked that way; the remarks made headlines around the country; prominent Democrats spouted fever dreams on Russian collusion and democracy’s impending death.
But how is what Biden clearly wants from Garland (i.e., to be a Robert F. Kennedy-style multipurpose political attack and defense dog) any different?
Indeed, Biden himself years back publicly grumbled about Garland’s failure to charge Trump with anything — which the AG soon did, so he’s got a bit of Kennedy in him after all.
He also played along when White House aides asked him to sic the FBI on parents who speak up at local school-board meetings.
So Garland isn’t rising to the “just say no to political pressure” standard set by Trump AG’s Sessions and Bill Barr.
But Joe and Donald have a lot more in common than partisans on either side want to admit.