This letter was linked in the comments, with a tweet that gave the impression that this letter and all the signatures indicates a lack of faith in Merrick Garland. I read the letter very differently. It strikes me as a very public show of support, a message to Merrick Garland that they have his back.
DOJ ALUMNI STATEMENT ON CRIMINAL ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THE EFFORTS TO OVERTURN THE 2020 ELECTION (published on Medium)
We are alumni of the Department of Justice who have served under both Democratic and Republican administrations in career and politically appointed roles, many of us as prosecutors. We always understood our responsibility was to ensure even-handed enforcement of the law and to uphold the fundamental democratic principle that, irrespective of position, no one is above it.
We watched in horror on January 6, 2021, asa group of insurrectionists stormed our Capitol. It was clear at the time that this was an attempt to subvert the will of voters in the 2020 presidential election by interfering with the constitutionally prescribed process for counting and certifying electoral votes. And it has since become clear that the defeated former president, various members of his administration, and even some members of Congress, played pivotal roles in the insurrection. The Senate Judiciary Committee and the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol have provided additional disturbing details concerning this attempt to overturn the election results, both on January 6, and in the post-election period that preceded it. Clearly, there is more to learn, as the Select Committee continues its valid legislatively-oriented investigation. Just as critical, there is a need for decisive action by the Department of Justice, our nation’s leading law enforcement agency.
Accordingly, we strongly support the Attorney General in conducting the ongoing meticulous investigation of the events of January 6. Numerous individuals already have been charged with serious felony offenses, including seditious conspiracy, corruptly obstructing the congressional vote count proceeding, and conspiring to do so, and additional prosecutions are likely.
We were especially encouraged to hear the Attorney General’s statement on the anniversary of the insurrection that the Department is committed to holding accountable anyone — “at any level” — who was “criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy,” regardless of whether they were present at the Capitol on January 6. While he appropriately refrained from naming subjects of the investigation against whom charges might be brought, or the specific evidence being evaluated, the import of his words is clear: the DOJ investigation will continue to focus on those who played the most significant roles in attempting to destroy our democracy, no matter their positions at the height of government. And the investigation will not be limited to the violence that occurred on January 6. Indeed, in our view, it should extend to any actions of administration officials and others to overturn the will of the voters that preceded and followed the insurrection.
While we know that there is important investigative work yet to be done and that difficult decisions remain to be made, we support the Attorney General and the Department in their commitment to prosecute anyone as to whom the evidence ultimately shows provable criminal conduct in the events surrounding January 6, 2021, including, if warranted, those who engaged in post-election attempts to pressure federal and state officials to violate their responsibilities. And while the Attorney General rightly counseled patience as the Department moves the investigation toward higher-level actors, we urge him to preserve the public trust by holding culpable leaders to account as soon as possible.
Some surely will accuse the Department of playing politics by considering a possible indictment of the former president. But regardless of how the investigation ultimately turns out, given the currently available evidence, there is no good reason to exclude him from the inquiry. It is clear that a former president has no immunity from indictment for his conduct while in office and that there is a sound basis in law for the matter to proceed.
The Attorney General has made it clear that the former president and his confidants will be treated the same as the hundreds of others who have been subject to investigation or to prosecution and punishment for their roles in the January 6 insurrection. That is the embodiment of the Department’s mission to ensure the non-political and even-handed administration of justice, and we commend the Attorney General for his commitment to upholding that mission. His speech appropriately recognizes that if those who hold the most power are allowed to act with impunity while the less powerful are sent to prison, equal justice under the law would be a lie, and respect for the rule of law and democracy itself would be in grave danger of destruction.
For all these reasons, we call on the Attorney General to continue to translate his important words into concrete actions to impose accountability on the powerful people who sought to destroy our democracy in every case supported by the evidence. We stand ready to support him and the Department’s career staff as they carry forward this vital mission.
How do you read this letter? Expressing concern or showing support?
Since these are top-shelf lawyers we’re talking about, I vote for “both.” To be fair, that’s not as contradictory as it seems. It’s quite possible to include an “attaboy” and a “don’t stop now, keep going” in the same message.
It’s clear to me that this message is showing support for further investigation and, if the evidence supports them, criminal indictments.
Is it too mealy mouth to say it contains some of each?
PS BJ jackals love you and Cole. P!us a special thanks to murderbot series by Martha Wells as a reading recommendation
It certainly does not read as criticism to me.
It’s clearly showing support.
I really like that Biden and this letter say that TFG was “defeated”. He didn’t lose, he was DEFEATED. Use the active word.
Well it’s obviously both. We support you if you do what’s right.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
The word “meticulous” jumps out at me. IANAL but I’ve always thought that Garland is being very, very careful, and he should be. He’s in largely uncharted and potentially hostile (trump/bush/Reagan judges) waters. I think this is supportive.
I also note the sentence about former presidents not being immune from prosecution. “Go all the way”.
My fellow-non-lawyers (and some lawyers) who have been shrieking for “investigations” and “indictments” now! leave me asking the same question the internet so often does “And then?”
The rules require all things Democratic to be portrayed in the most negative light. I declare your question out of bounds.
Support with a reminder to stay on task
Seems fully supportive of the work that has been done and also encouraging that investigative work to be followed to its logical conclusion.
Totally agree! I think that’s different, though, than “you’re not doing enough” or “you’re not going fast enough” or “we are afraid you are not going to do this”.
@Another Scott: I wonder if we jackals – between Balloon Juice and twitter and facebook and comments on other blogs – could make an impact by always referring to him as the Defeated Former President?
@Baud: Then I declare you out of bounds!
(had to be said, but of course I don’t mean it)
After reading the tweet, I was prepared for another day of the beatdown from the news, but after reading the letter, I feel much better.
“This whole blog is out of order!!!”
Then it served its purpose.
To me it seems supportive with a strong subtext of ‘For god’s sake don’t screw it up by bringing cases that fail on technicalities”
It specifically encourages Garland to go all the way to the top if a strong enough case can be made
It’s clearly supportive of his stated goals.
And this post is my “fuck you!” to that
*I am referring to the tweet author, not suggesting that was germy’s intention by posting the tweet
My feeling–and boy I am so NAL–is that Garland knows he has to have enough solid irrefutable evidence to win each case. Any misses will be blown up and tossed in his face as well as Biden’s. Yes, the GOPers are going to wail regardless.
I’m also a fan of having the wrap-ups take place within a week or two of the midterms. Normies have short memories and anything wrapped up before, say, mid-October will be forgotten by early November
ETA: Kalakal nails my first point in one sentence.
@Baud: Maybe we need to make a concerted effort to counter their intended discouragement with facts and information?
I think that’s exactly right – the last paragraph is sort of encouraging Garland and the DoJ to keep up with the good work, not a suggestion that they’ve failed so far.
OT, but in case anyone wants to get in on the concurrent match:
You may now resume the previous conversation.
I still think of Trump as a loser. But that’s way broader than the election.
OT – Good Morning Water girl, I just made a Four Directions donation, are matches still happening?
(I’ll go read the letter above now, wouldn’t want to be out of bounds and all)
I read this as supportive–the numerous uses of that word, the use of “meticulous” as JFL noted above, “appropriately refrained” from naming names, etc. all speak to an understanding of how the DOJ should be run. They are well aware that these are largely uncharted waters, and that making these cases will be a challenge.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@WaterGirl: Leah McElrath, and judging from her feed, yeah, she’s desperate to find excuses to say that Biden is worse than trump
as different-church-lady hints at above, the buzzwords change, but the quest for a (self) righteous excuse to sit on the sidelines remains the same
“Accordingly, we strongly support the Attorney General in conducting the ongoing meticulous investigation of the events of January 6.” Don’t overinterpret it. It’s not a symbolist poem. It’s an explicit statement of support.
What facts and infomation? People can interpret the intent and purpose of this letter how they want. Nothing in the letter itself precludes any subtext that the original tweeter wants to read into it. The most you can tell someone that they haven’t made a strong enough case to make their point of view persuasive.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist:
Ah, someone did the research!
I would rather not know what’s going on behind the scenes. I can’t take much more sausage-making.
@randy khan: @JMG:
Yep. Do your job. Follow this to its logical conclusion. We’ve got your back.
@BeautifulPlumage: Matches are still happening! Check out my comment at #22 about the two concurrent $1,000 angel matches that just started.
Be sure and list the donation you just made in the “Halfway There” thread so you get the concurrent match.
@WaterGirl: I would be willing to conclude all of my comments with “oh, and fuck you to the defeated former president”.
@Kristine: Many states start early voting much sooner. These days the bad news needs to come well before October.
Poking around, Medium.com is horrible for trying to find out who this group is.
This group is “DOJ_Alumni” with 17 followers and one post. And points to https://protectdemocracy.org/
There’s another group “DOJAlumni” with 1.7k followers and seven posts. And also points to https://protectdemocracy.org/
So maybe they’re the same group and had to change ‘nyms for some reason.
It doesn’t matter in this case, of course, and anonymity is very useful (obviously), but when you’re trying to get people to sign on to a letter, it helps for people to know who you are (without having to dig elsewhere).
Just some crabbing this morning, in case you hadn’t been exposed to enough yet today. ;-)
Jim, Foolish Literalist
another case of Biden-is-worse-than-trump. I was willing to give this person– a former Vox writer who apparently has some kind of affiliation with MSNBC– a break thinking that she was making a bad joke that got misconstrued, but she’s now calling this strange, deliberate, false memory “a mistaken tweet”– which she has since deleted– and sneering at anyone who took her words to mean what they said.
I see it as a letter of support and especially encouragement.
My concern is tRumpist/Fed Society moles in DoJ/FBI purposely sabotaging the process by intentionally fucking up, as well as potentially jeopardizing their careers by underground contact with targets/targets’ legal teams. For generations, these types of people have suffered minimal negative consequences for their malfeasance.
@Another Scott: This is at the top of the page on the letter I linked to:
I think most people are just worried that the guilty will get away. It’s possible the GQP can make the House investigation disappear, but they can’t touch Garland. There are three long years (more or less) to get this done.
What fuckups have there been?
@WaterGirl: Yes, but if you click on the About it doesn’t say anything.
@Baud: Maybe you’re right. But more facts and information might at least reduce the overall % of crap particulates in the water, so to speak.
@Another Scott: I wasn’t clear. I was intending to convey that this was the 17 followers group not the 1.7k followers group.
If you scroll down to the bottom of the Medium letter, there’s a window with every name (and professional title) of the signatories. It’s not showing up on your computer screen? It’s a window within the web page.
@germy: Me too.
Thank you, Watergirl, for going to the source. Always helpful.
Tonga undersea volcano eruption, tsunami warnings basically everywhere. Yeehaw!
How are you doing? Last thing I’d heard was that you’d suffered an injury. I hope you’re fully recovered.
Maybe they need to play the song with the Don’t Back Down refrain every time Merrick Garland is on stage. Not sure what the title of the song actually is.
J R in WV
Anyone who see much in the way of criticism in this letter is a tool for the Republican fascists. It is supportive of what’s been done in public so far and urges continued hard work to run everyone involved to ground ASAP. Hard for me to disagree with any of that, although as always I wish more people at the top of the conspiracy were already in custody.
Looking forward to that perp walk of the tangerine defeated wannabe politician mobster. “Hands behind your back, please, Mr President! And watch your head!!” Heheh!
Seems like the sort of careful, lawyerly support one would anticipate from a collective effort. I’d say it’s positive.
Also, when they say “prosecute anyone as to whom the evidence ultimately shows provable criminal conduct in the events surrounding January 6, 2021, including, if warranted, those who engaged in post-election attempts to pressure federal and state officials to violate their responsibilities”, I just want to say: Nail those forgery-pushing mofos who signed and sent in bogus ‘certificates.’
It appears at least Michigan is pushing for that. The others should not dawdle.
From the link: “‘Under state law, I think clearly you have forgery of a public record, which is a 14-year offense, and election law forgery, which is a five-year offense,’ she told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. But the Justice Department, she said, is best suited to probe and potentially prosecute.”
@germy: @zhena gogolia: Fully recovered? Zhena may throw something at you with her good arm. :-)
Broken bones take months.
@WaterGirl: I’ve been learning to read aeronautical charts, 17 on them is 1.7k.
@debbie: No clue; the big indictments ‘up the ladder’ have just begun. We’ll see if there’s been internal sabotage once the defense teams dig in and once some cases get before Rethug judges.
@RaflW: Are these evil racists smart enough to have worn gloves when they handled the fake paperwork?
Magic 8-ball says no.
@germy: I’m sure it’s fine; your good intentions were clear!
I just tried to say what she probably couldn’t! :-)
@debbie: I think that if you’ve been a bureaucrat in an institution for any amount of time you learn how to slow-walk stuff and quietly slow things down.
I imagine that’s happening at the very least.
“These things must be done … delicately.”
@germy: Yes, I see that too. I was just griping because the original authors weren’t saying who they are. Maybe they’re the first signatories.
Just griping. ;-)
Agree entirely. And Yes.
@WaterGirl: What WaterGirl said. Supposedly I’m on track, but it feels like forever. If I could just stay home for the next 6 months, I’d be fine, but I have to start teaching 1/31, so I’m trying to decide.
@germy: But thanks for asking!
@WaterGirl: Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam !
@zhena gogolia: Trying to decide? As in considering taking a semester off? (Answer was no)
If that is what you are pondering, that would seem sensible to me. We are all going through Covid stress, those who teach and have to be in public have it much worse.
To have a broken arm on top of that isn’t just added stress and difficulty, it’s exponential.
No one (who matters!) will judge you no matter what you decide, so my advice (totally unasked for!) is – for this one time – to only think of yourself and decide based on what’s best for you.
@WaterGirl: Thanks. But I already have 25+ students in one class and 15+ in another, and I hate to let them down. We are such a small program.
Via reddit, satellite footage
@Baud: So cool (from a distance, lots of distance).
@zhena gogolia: If not that, then what are you trying to decide?
It’s a public statement so I would assume the authors meant it to be a message to more than just Garland. I read a lot of the meticulous statements as a warning to Garland and the rest of the world to remember how a corrupt AG can interfere in even a carefully conducted investigation. Given this is coming from former and current DoD employees who worked under multiple administrations, I’m hearing this as directed towards Barr and others who were appointed even before TFG hit the WH. Kavanaugh/Kennedy for instance. Barr is never mentioned but the implication is there that the AG didn’t do his job around the Jan 6 insurrection and AND he actively participated in obstruction of the Mueller and other investigations to. I read this as a is a message to top DoD officials both past and present.
Flashing back to a then newly elected mayor of Maui, three weeks into taking office.
So you think this is encouragement and support for Garland and a warning to the previous administration? Or perhaps a warning to current DOJ people who might have their hands dirty? Or a warning that it would be unwise to try to block or interfere with a meticulous investigation?
@NotMax: Cringing at the thought. Ugh.
The letter is as open to interpretation as the Bible, so each reader feels free to ransack the text and “rake the promises to himself and fling the curses to his neighbors,” as Emily Brontë put it.
SFB is a loser. And he was defeated by Joe Biden.
SFB is a defeated loser.
There is nothing stopping you from using both words in the same sentence.
On the post’s concept that this is not a dis on Garland, I agree. This is unprecedented in our history, this entire mess of a defeated loser attempting to overthrow an election, of an entire political party of stomping their little feets because they LOST an election. It hasn’t always been happy losers, or even that someone actually lost an election and still conceded, but we have at least always had a modicum of decorum. Not with SFB and his losing. We had an insurrection, an armed and destructive insurrection. We should never, ever forget who did this and why he did it.
We should never, ever forget who called for, helped, aided, abetted a violent insurrection of our national government.
On the whole, it’s a show of support, but it’s also a bit of a nudge to move a little faster. It’s hard to read
any other way. (Italics mine.)
And while I assume that the AG’s office has (quite appropriately) said nothing about looking into Trump’s possible crimes, I don’t know what those formerly in DOJ are hearing from those in there right now. Whether this is an ‘attaboy’ or a ‘don’t lose sight of this’ likely depends on what they’re hearing:
That’s about all I have.
@JMG: This is my take as well. I hear, “We are with you, but we also are turning your feet closer to the fire. Don’t let us, the institution, or the country down. It’s tough, but you had to know that when you accepted the job.”
@Ruckus: +1. Yup. He could hardly have been more explicit:
“And we fight. We fight like hell And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Jill Wine-Banks tweeted this as one of the 1,100 former DOJ alumni who signed it. She said it was a clear message of support and encouragement.
It doesn’t read at all to me like some sort of panicked criticism. I see enough of that shit from various legal tv pundits (cough, cough…Mystsal) and this doesn’t look anything like that.
Yeah, I fail to see how it can be read any other way.
Both sides are fraught, as Mr Todd will tell us tomorrow morning.
@trollhattan: Al Jazeera’s article on the volcanic eruption off of Tonga says that people in Fiji, 500 miles away, heard sounds like thunder. Tonga’s royal palace is near the ocean, so a convoy of police and military came and escorted the King to higher ground.
Shorter version of the letter: “Go get ‘em, Garland! We’re with you!”
The situation’s fraught,
Fraughter than I thought,
With horrible, impossible, possibilities!
– “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”
James E Powell
I like to say rejected. America rejected Trump.
@WaterGirl: That is what I’m trying to decide. But it’s hard.
@James E Powell
Ceremoniously dumped his ass works, also too.
James E Powell
Kicked him down to Loser Town!
@UncleEbeneezer: I intentionally did not include the tweet that presented this as disappointment by former DOJ folks. But that presentation is what led me to post this question along with the letter.
@zhena gogolia: It is hard. It may be even harder if you already know in your heart what you need to do, but the rest of you doesn’t like the answer. :-)
If that’s the case, maybe accept your own wisdom and tear the bandaid off?
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, I Won’t Back Down
@WaterGirl: Thank you! Lol. I don’t doubt that haters gonna hate, as they always do, but I really think one has to nit-pick quite a bit to take this letter as a sign of frustration/anger. I’d say anyone pushing that interpretation, says more about them than the letter itself.
@lowtechcyclist: Yeah, in terms of being “a bit of a nudge to move a little faster” I’d think that people outside DOJ (and hopefully inside as well) are mindful of November 2022.
As we get closer to the election, the press’s ‘both sides’ tendencies will make it far to easy to say “indictments that seem to be timed for maximum damage” in that way that is primed to make DOJ look nasty-political, even if in actuality the timing is largely driven by legwork, procedure and fair intent.
If we get past Nov ’22 and the House falls, and esp after early Jan ’23, I could see the GOP going balls-out. “Defund DOJ!”, haul Garland in for endless hearings, etc. Even as Biden can veto bullshit should the Senate also fall, the chaos is gonna be lit. If we hold the House and, FSM willing, we +2 the Senate (not likely, but not impossible) the risks to slow-walking past this summer are a tiny bit reduced.
@RaflW: I was wondering when and if legal departments would get around to this. Thank heavens for Dana Nessel for doing her part.
It was clear that something was coordinated. At the elector-choosing day, every one of these troupes of Republican weasels gathered and motored down to the statehouse to go through their cosplay ritual in some room or other inside the State Legislature building.
Michigan probably sensed something was up, and maybe got tipped off, so the governor closed the building to everyone but the people who were supposed to be there. But the losers showed up anyway, filmed themselves at an entrance getting turned way by a security guard, and then went out to the parking lot and did their dopey cosplay ceremony there.
Are we supposed to believe that all these losers just happened by coincidence to hit on the same stupid plan independently?
I think it’s an amazing combination of have at it!, make sure you thoroughly kick all the asses that deserve to be kicked, and kick them as soon as you can, OK?
@BlueGuitarist: Thanks for that! Listening now.
@brantl: Great summary.
I think we’re still talking late summer/early fall, though. Maybe the hints can start dropping during the August lull to give the press something to chew on.
I read the letter — unsurprisingly — in a way that supports my response to Garland’s speech, which I think was very important. However, the one thing that gave me pause was his comment about it will “take as long as it takes.” In one sense, that’s a tautology, of course it will take as long as it takes, but how long that is could depend on the level of urgency the DOJ brings to the investigation. I would like to have heard Garland say that they will address this investigation with all the urgency it demands, since it is possible that completion could come when it is too late. Garland is not good at conveying urgency. Is that because he doesn’t feel it or because of his personality and demeanor. I don’t know.
His speech was long overdue, which was not a good sign, since it was seemingly in response to growing criticism about apparent inaction. We all know, I think, that perceptions matter. Garland could have told us that he realizes the urgency of this matter and he and his department will use every resource at their disposal and apply more the second they are needed. I didn’t hear that.
My attitude toward Garland in general is I wouldn’t have appointed him as AG. That position is not a consolation prize for the injustice he suffered concerning his SCOTUS nomination. But I had hoped for someone more energetic, dynamic, and forceful without sacrificing integrity or competence. Garland might have been the perfect choice for AG in normal times, but these times are not normal. I think it is important that this investigation, affect the mid-terms, if that is humanly possible. Once the Republicans are back in control of both houses of Congress, the likelihood of justice being done may take a real hit. Once they have the Congress and the White House (2025?) it may well be all over. If Trump is re-elected in 2024, he is likely to pardon everyone involved in the insurrection, including himself and members of Congress (should any of them be found guilty of a crime).
So, I think this letter was both support, encouragement, and prodding.
Strong support. 100%
I’m also on Team Encouragement and Support.
@TriassicSands: Garland wasn’t appointed AG as a consolation prize. He had a great gig. Chief Judge of the DC Circuit is a big deal. He walked away from that to become AG. He also wasn’t appointed to be the Democratic Barr. He is there to start to rebuild the credibility of the DOJ. He was a careful, meticulous, and effective prosecutor. That is why he is there. Your feelings and mine are irrelevant.
It seems pretty blatantly on the putting down markers on the “support side” – there’s a giant chunk in the middle that literally reads:
“Accordingly, we strongly support the Attorney General in conducting the ongoing meticulous investigation of the events of January 6. Numerous individuals already have been charged with serious felony offenses, including seditious conspiracy, corruptly obstructing the congressional vote count proceeding, and conspiring to do so, and additional prosecutions are likely.
We were especially encouraged to hear the Attorney General’s statement on the anniversary of the insurrection that the Department is committed to holding accountable anyone — “at any level” — who was “criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy,” regardless of whether they were present at the Capitol on January 6. While he appropriately refrained from naming subjects of the investigation against whom charges might be brought, or the specific evidence being evaluated, the import of his words is clear: the DOJ investigation will continue to focus on those who played the most significant roles in attempting to destroy our democracy, no matter their positions at the height of government. And the investigation will not be limited to the violence that occurred on January 6. Indeed, in our view, it should extend to any actions of administration officials and others to overturn the will of the voters that preceded and followed the insurrection.”
I don’t see anything in it particularly critical, and I’m not really sure how it could be read that way. My take is that they know sh*t is very definitely going down and they are making it clear that he has been running a very careful investigation so that when politically connected people start having to deal with the consequences of their actions, it’s going to be that much harder to play the “rogue Garland” card.
@Noskilz: Yes, right.
@TriassicSands: Generally agree – your analysis goes further than I tried to go, but I read this as a combination of support/we have your back/keep going and do not back down
it seems like some have legitimate questions at this point whether Garland has the intestinal fortitude to indict the former President, and this letter seemed to say that the investigation needs to be done right, but if the case is there, the DOJ needs to prosecute anyone responsible, including a former president.
@Omnes Omnibus: while our feelings individually do not matter a whole lot, maintaining, rebuilding and keeping a DOJ reputation for independence and appropriate action includes the perceptions of the American public, of which we likely maintain membership, so our feelings matter as part of the broader (very broad) group…