Trump supporters who were hoping the Justice Department would just let them walk away with a slap on the wrist for committing insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th were just given a reality-check by Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland.
Five years after Senate Republicans refused to confirm Garland for a Supreme Court seat in a scheme to put another conservative on the bench, they are under pressure to confirm Garland now or face an angry backlash.
For his part, Garland is expected to testify at a confirmation hearing this week and his written remarks indicate he intends to crush the taint of Trumpism in the Justice Department and return it to a non-partisan stance.
To that end, Trump supporters who orchestrated and participated in an attempted coup to keep disgraced former President Donald Trump in power will face serious consequences.
“If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6 — a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government,” Garland wrote.
Indeed, just ask Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh if Garland is serious. Oh, that’s right, we can’t because McVeigh was executed for his crime. Just as McVeigh paid for killing 168 people in a domestic terrorist attack on the federal building there, so should the hundreds of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol and killed a Capitol Police officer in a seditious plot to assassinate lawmakers and overthrow our democracy.
Hopefully, Garland will also pursue charges against several Republicans who either aided or incited the insurrectionists, including Trump himself, especially since Republicans refused to convict him at the end of a damning impeachment trial.
Many Republicans will likely object to Garland exorcising Trumpism out of the Justice Department, just as they will object to Garland seeking justice wherever there is injustice.
In particular, Garland is poised to return the Justice Department to its mission of equal justice.
“The Civil Rights Act of 1957 created the Department’s Civil Rights Division, with the mission ‘to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, particularly some of the most vulnerable members of our society,'” Garland said. “That mission remains urgent because we do not yet have equal justice.”
“Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment, and the criminal justice system; and bear the brunt of the harm caused by pandemic, pollution, and climate change,” Garland continued.
Clearly, the DOJ will no longer ignore black and brown Americans as it did under Trump. And it will not serve as the president’s personal law firm either. Right-wing extremists are going to experience what a crackdown feels like, which will hopefully ensure that Trump supporters don’t feel emboldened to ever attempt a coup again. Any Republican who stands in the way of Garland’s nomination will only be confirming where their loyalty lies, and it’s not with democracy or the Constitution.
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