Attorney General Merrick Garland assured U.S. Senators, under oath, that leaks about investigations regarding presidents’ handling of sensitive documents while out of office are not “directed” by the Justice Department.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) pressed Garland, who was appearing Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, about various media reports about the inquiries into former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden.
“I’ve read the leaks. They are inappropriate,” Garland testified. “We also don’t know where they come from.”
During his line of questioning, Cruz expressed the view that the leaks have been politically motivated, benefiting one side — Biden and the Democrats — while hurting Trump. But, the senator added, the Justice Department’s “intention” to indict Trump became “infinitely harder” when classified documents were discovered at Biden’s multiple residences.
After noting how “miraculously” there was no immediate leak about classified documents being found at Biden’s office at a D.C. think tank right before the 2022 midterm elections, Cruz asked the attorney general if there appears to be a double standard considering the torrent of leaks about the Trump inquiry.
“Leaks under all circumstances are inappropriate and they are not directed by anyone in the Justice Department,” Garland said.
Before his time expired, Cruz also said it was “striking” to him that leaks about the federal investigation into Hunter Biden seem to be more focused on possible tax crimes and a false statement related to a gun purchase that could be complicated by his history of drug use rather than the “very real evidence” of corruption involving the younger Biden’s father, President Biden.
Garland has appointed separate special counsels to investigate Trump’s and Joe Biden’s handling of government documents, a move he attributes to their ambitions to seek re-election in 2024.
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The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that prosecutors prevailed over FBI agents who resisted the plan to raid Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida last summer in the search for classified documents.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) sought to have Garland answer to the new reporting, but the attorney general insisted he was not at liberty to discuss the investigation. However, Garland said generally there is often a “robust discussion” between prosecutors and investigators. Garland also said he “approved the decision to seek a search warrant after probable cause was found.”
Hawley argued that the reporting indicated that the FBI lacks confidence in Garland’s leadership.
“FBI field agents did not want to conduct the raid and they were overruled by [the Justice Department],” Hawley said. “It doesn’t seem to me, attorney general, that the FBI has a lot of confidence in you because what they’re doing, clearly, is trying to distance themselves from your decisions.”