US Attorney General to House Republicans: 'I will not be intimidated'

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland will take aim on Tuesday at Donald Trump’s Republican allies in the House of Representatives, where he will accuse them of peddling false narratives that endanger law enforcement and undermine the Justice Department’s integrity.

“I will not be intimidated,” Garland plans to tell lawmakers before the House Judiciary Committee, according to excerpts of his prepared testimony. “And the Justice Department will not be intimidated. We will continue to do our jobs free from political influence. And we will not back down from defending our democracy.

Tuesday will mark the first time Garland has appeared before Congress since Trump was convicted by a jury on New York City on 34 counts of falsifying documents to cover up a payment to silence an adult film star ahead of the 2016 election.

Trump still faces three other looming criminal cases – two brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and his mishandling of classified documents – and a state case in Georgia also tied to his actions in the 2020 election.

Republicans have claimed all four cases are politically motivated and represent an effort by Trump’s rival President Joe Biden to interfere in the 2024 election on Nov. 5.

They have threatened to defund Smith’s two investigations into the former Republican president.

The House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight Committee have also sought to advance contempt proceedings against Garland, after he refused to provide audio recordings of Biden’s interview with a second Special Counsel who investigated Biden’s retention of classified records and declined to press charges.

Garland on Tuesday will blast Republicans’ demands for the audio, saying their request serves “no legitimate purpose” and represents the latest in a string of baseless attacks.

“It comes alongside threats to defund particular department investigations, most recently the Special Counsel’s prosecution of the former President,” Garland will testify. “It comes alongside false claims that a jury verdict in a state trial, brought by a local District Attorney, was somehow controlled by the Justice Department. That conspiracy theory is an attack on the judicial process itself.”

Garland on Tuesday also plans to defend law enforcement from baseless attacks, after Trump falsely claimed the FBI was “authorized to shoot me” and was “locked and loaded” when it executed a search warrant at his Florida estate in the classified documents probe.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon declined to impose a gag order barring Trump from making inflammatory comments that could endanger FBI agents, some of whom will be witnesses at trial.

Smith has since renewed his request, and Trump’s legal team has until June 14 to respond.

Without naming Trump, Garland in his prepared testimony will lament the “baseless and extremely dangerous falsehoods” that are being spread about the FBI’s law enforcement operations, as well as the “heinous threats of violence being directed at the Justice Department’s career public servants.”

“These repeated attacks on the Justice Department are unprecedented and unfounded,” he plans to say. “These attacks have not, and they will not, influence our decision making.”

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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