The most specific Garland would get was saying, “Look, no person is above the law in this country,” and, when pressed on whether that includes former presidents, saying, “Maybe I’ll say that again, no person is above the law in this country—I can’t say it more clearly than that.”
The thing is, he actually can say it more clearly than that, and the fact that he doesn’t think he can is an issue. Additionally, there are public signs about what his department is and isn’t doing—and while they point to a more substantial investigation than some people are claiming, they also don’t look like a full-speed-ahead-dedicate-every-possible-resource situation, either.
The Justice Department isn’t not investigating attempts to overturn the election. In addition to its prosecutions of the people who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, there are investigations into attempts to put fake electors into place and into Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark’s efforts to use the agency’s sway to get Georgia legislators not to certify the state’s election.
Marcy Wheeler recently laid out the available information on the department’s investigations, noting a series of moves to investigate not just Clark but Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, and more. Wheeler noted a significant gap, though, in an apparent lack of investigation of former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ role.
But Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the Jan. 6 committee and a former federal prosecutor, recently expressed concern about inaction by the Justice Department, saying, “I have been involved in numerous high-profile investigations that engendered significant congressional interest, and what I have seen in this inquiry is not typical behavior from the Justice Department. Usually, department prosecutors and agents don’t want Congress jumping ahead of their investigation, and they work hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Adam Schiff is not a firebrand. He’s a very circumspect former federal prosecutor who knows how this stuff works. If he’s concerned, then Merrick Garland’s insistence that “I can’t say it more clearly” than saying “no person is above the law in this country” looks even weaker than it does as a stand-alone statement.