In 2016, Donald Trump’s election doomed Merrick Garland’s shot at a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. Four years later, Garland oversaw a raid on the former president’s personal home.
The Department of Justice refused to confirm that Attorney General Garland had personally signed off on Monday’s raid on Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach home, but it seems impossible that such an outrageous move could be made without approval from the top. Since Garland hasn’t fired every agent involved and proclaimed their disgrace from the rooftops, it’s safe to assume the raid had Garland’s blessing — in which case, it was one of the most glaring acts of political revenge in recent memory. How can anyone be expected to believe Garland is acting as a neutral arbiter of justice here?
When Garland was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2016, the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency and an election year, Senate Republicans stalled his confirmation with the express approval of then-candidate Trump. “I think the next president should make the pick, and I think they shouldn’t go forward, and I believe I’m pretty much in line with what the Republicans are saying,” Trump announced, even before Garland was officially nominated. While Garland’s nomination still dangled, Trump released his own list of originalist judges he would potentially nominate if elected. And after assuming office, when Trump nominated now-Justice Neil Gorsuch to fill the seat that was denied to Garland, he thanked Sen. Mitch McConnell for spiking Garland’s confirmation to “make this achievement possible.”
How did Garland take the snub? Garland’s friend and colleague Judge Laurence Silberman said Garland had “always regarded the role of a judge as a culmination of his profession.” It’s easy to extrapolate that Garland would view a seat on the Supreme Court bench as the ultimate culmination of his career. Silberman added that “He certainly was disappointed and thought it was unfair,” and that “I tried to convince him it wasn’t personal.” Silberman didn’t say whether that attempt was successful.
Garland’s weaponization of federal law enforcement isn’t just an act of personal revenge, it’s also revenge from the intelligence community at large for Trump’s criticism in the wake of the IC’s collusion to spy on him and legitimize sham accusations against him during his 2016 campaign. That proved unsuccessful at stopping his election, so now that Trump is teasing a 2024 run, the security state is doubling down. To an extent unthinkable just a few years ago, the FBI and DOJ are proving right the chilling threat that Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer shot at a newly-elected Trump: “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”
As Garland, the DOJ, and the FBI execute their vendetta against the former president, you won’t hear a peep about the glaring partiality of “justice” from the same people who screeched “conflict of interest” at Justice Clarence Thomas over his wife’s political views. In Thomas’s case, there is nothing disqualifying about the political beliefs of a judge’s spouse.
As for Garland using the highest office of law enforcement in the country to persecute a political enemy, with an easily imaginable goal of hamstringing his future candidacy — that foul abuse is disqualifying not just on a personal level, but it disqualifies the legitimacy of the entire Department of Justice and every election it manipulates.
Elle Reynolds is an assistant editor at The Federalist, and received her B.A. in government from Patrick Henry College with a minor in journalism. You can follow her work on Twitter at @_etreynolds.
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