Where is Merrick Garland?
Many media commentators have lamented his apparent absence in holding former President Donald Trump criminally accountable for his role in the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol and various schemes to cling to power. It’s frustrating to see so little outward action, and angering to think that Trump could get away with what appears to have been a plot to overturn a presidential election, a crime that would go to the very existence of our democracy. It’s difficult to imagine a more serious offense a president could commit.
But investigating complex, high-profile cases takes time — a long time. I am quite confident that no prosecutor could complete such a sweeping investigation by now, or even before the midterm elections, and so an absence of charges is not surprising. And, because most of DOJ’s work is done behind the scenes, a lack of overt investigative action is also unsurprising. Secrecy protects those under investigation as well as the investigation itself. If witnesses knew every step that was occurring, they could thwart the probe by getting their stories straight, destroying evidence or tampering with witnesses. And so most of DOJ’s investigative activity is done outside public view, either under seal in court filings or within the secrecy rules of a grand jury.