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Pressuring Merrick Garland to do his job

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At last we have some signs that such pressure is beginning to work:

The Department of Justice is investigating then-President Donald Trump’s actions leading up to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol as part of its criminal probe of efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, an administration official familiar with the investigation said.

The inquiry is related to the department’s broader probe of efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and not a criminal investigation of Trump himself, the official said.

The Washington Post first reported that the Justice Department was investigating Trump’s actions leading up to Jan. 6, citing four people familiar with the matter, whom it did not name. The department declined to comment on the investigation. 

NBC News has reached out to a spokesperson for Trump for comment.

The Post, citing two people familiar with the matter, reported that prosecutors have asked witnesses before a grand jury about conversations with Trump. Some of the questions focused on substituting Trump allies for electors in states Joe Biden won and on a pressure campaign on then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election, the newspaper reported.

The Post also reported that the Justice Department has acquired phone records of aides, including former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows. The department, a spokesperson for Trump, and a lawyer for Meadows did not respond to the Post’s requests for comment. NBC News has not confirmed the details of the Post’s report about the Justice Department’s line of questioning or the phone records.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said an interview that aired on “NBC Nightly News” on Tuesday that “anyone” could be held accountable.

“We will hold accountable anyone who was criminally responsible for attempting to interfere with the transfer, legitimate, lawful transfer of power from one administration to the next,” he told anchor Lester Holt.

Garland’s defenders will of course claim that these latest developments are merely the outcome of a year and half of intensive investigation, intended to uncover Donald Trump’s heretofore extraordinarily well-concealed attempt to interfere with the legitimate lawful transfer of power from one administration to the next.

Occam’s Razor suggests that what’s really going on is that Garland’s initial decision not to seriously pursue any criminal case against Trump and his inner circle is becoming increasingly untenable from a political standpoint.

I assume these two interpretations of the course of legal and political events in the wake of the attempted autogolpe that began in November of 2020 and has not stopped since will be batted about by future historians of our interesting times.

In either case these are promising developments, although they will mean less than nothing if Garland ultimately decides that enforcing the law against a former president is not something he is willing to do. So it’s imperative that the current wave of pressure on him be kept up and if possible intensified.

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