“The only pressure I feel, and the only pressure that our line prosecutors feel, is to do the right thing. That means we follow the facts and the law, wherever they may lead,” Garland said at a news conference Friday, where he was announcing new charges in an unrelated gun trafficking case.
Garland was asked about political pressure on the agency at the end of a momentous week for the efforts to scrutinize the 2020 election reversal plot.
On Monday, a federal judge said that it was “more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct” Congress’ electoral certification vote. The assertion by US District Judge David Carter came in a documents disclosure case related to the House select committee investigation of the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
Several members of the committee cited the ruling on Monday evening as they called on the department to prosecute witnesses who are refusing to cooperate with the House probe. The department has charged one witness held in contempt by Congress, Steve Bannon, but has yet to bring an indictment against Mark Meadows, who was referred by the House for criminal prosecution late last year. The committee on Monday advanced contempt proceedings for two other ex-aides to former President Donald Trump.
It was revealed later this week, in reports by the Washington Post, New York Times and CNN , that the Justice Department’s criminal January 6 investigation had expanded, with federal investigators now gathering information about fundraising and organizing for the political rally immediately before Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol as well as the effort to subvert the Electoral College vote count.
On Friday, Garland would not weigh in on the Carter opinion or on the status of the Meadows referral.
“We follow the facts and the law wherever they lead, and that’s all I can say about the investigation,” Garland said when asked about the ruling, as he referenced department policy of not commenting on ongoing investigations. “The best way to undermine an investigation is to say things out of court about how they’re going.”
Asked about the status of the Meadows referral, Garland said, “We don’t comment on ongoing referrals.”