Commentary: Look Ahead, Not Backwards, to Hold the Justice Department Accountable

by Julie Kelly


Release of Special Counsel John Durham’s report on law enforcement and intelligence misconduct related to the 2016 presidential election has been met with outrage, recriminations, and a justified amount of vindication for those, including President Donald Trump, who helped expose the brazen operation from the start.

Trump is taking a well-deserved victory lap, to the extent one can be had, punctuated with angry denunciations of the scandal’s perpetrators. Conservative media is carefully dissecting the report to confirm once again the existence of what can only be described as a legitimate seditious conspiracy—not the phony January 6 sort—concocted by the country’s most powerful interests to take down a duly elected president. U.S. Representative James Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, invited Durham to testify next week.

Unfortunately, the collective reaction is an exercise in futility. No one, as many observers readily admit, will be held criminally responsible. The corrupt scheme’s collaborators receive book royalties, speaking fees, and coveted gigs at cable news outlets and nonprofits rather than lengthy prison sentences despite Senator Rand Paul’s wishcasting.

Some, including Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, populate the upper echelons of the Biden regime. Biden himself played a key role in perpetuating the destructive lie.

But relitigating the past in the public square, as vindicating as it may feel, is fruitless. The same corrupt elements are still at work, taking aim not just at Trump but his allies and voters in the shadow of another national election. Trump summed up the current threat in a message posted Wednesday morning on Truth Social.

Trump’s unjustified optimism in the final sentence notwithstanding, he is correct. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s handpicked special prosecutor, a man who has not been seen in public since his appointment more than seven months ago, is hauling everyone from Mar-a-Lago maids to former Vice President Mike Pence before grand juries considering charges against Trump for his role in January 6 and the handling of classified documents. A steady drip of leaks from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office keeps Trump’s suspected criminality on the front pages; at the same time, Smith refuses to disclose the names of taxpayer-paid staff conducting the unwieldy investigations.

Federal indictments are imminent.

Just a few blocks east of Smith’s office sits the office of Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. The Biden appointee is under fire for his dismal record of prosecuting criminals in the nation’s capital amid a violent crime wave while dedicating ample resources to the ongoing manhunt for mostly nonviolent Americans who protested Biden’s election on January 6.

Lay-up guilty verdicts rendered by juries made up of voters in the country’s most Democratic city serves the dual purpose of burnishing Graves’ résumé for a future cabinet spot and thickening Smith’s evidence file. As I explained here, the seditious conspiracy convictions of four members of the Proud Boys bolster Smith’s behind-the-scenes attempts to seek the same charge against Trump.

House Republicans had a rare and overdue opportunity to publicly grill Graves, currently handling a caseload of more than 1,000 defendants that is expected to double, about his selective, abusive prosecution of January 6 defendants. He appeared before the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday alongside D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee, and city administrator Kevin Donahue to discuss the city’s rampant crime problem.

Graves appeared nervous during his opening statement. Turns out, he had little to fear.

With the exception of Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-Ga.), Graves faced no questions about what he calls the “Capitol Siege” investigation. Republicans repeatedly pressed Graves to explain his office’s 67 percent declination rate in 2022—meaning he refused to prosecute roughly two-thirds of all cases brought to him by D.C. Metro police. But rather than condemn Graves for leading a politically-motivated criminal prosecution at the expense of the safety of D.C. residents, most Republicans merely implored Graves to do more.

Noting the D.C. U.S. attorney’s “unique” role in prosecuting both local and federal offenses, Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) offered to help Graves however he can.

“If it’s a resource issue, if we need more prosecutors, I mean, we need those types of issues set up, we’re willing to do that,” Armstrong promised Graves. “If you need more resources to deal with first time offenders, we need to know that. We’re willing to spend the money if the money is spent appropriately.”

One can only imagine how Democrats would treat a Republican federal prosecutor responsible for imprisoning hundreds of their voters on sham charges with more arrests to come; suffice to say, it would not involve the Armstrong suck up approach.

Further, Graves’ office isn’t lacking funding or prosecutors. The Department of Justice, thanks to 18 Republican senators, received a huge raise this year, including $34 million to hire temporary lawyers solely to handle January 6 cases.

A mealy-mouthed statement by the FBI in response to the Durham report once again demonstrated the bureau’s hubris. And why not? FBI Director Christopher Wray continues to ignore congressional inquiries with impunity. His agency received a half-billion-dollar raise for 2023 and he’s asking for more in the 2024 budget.

Some House Republicans, astonishingly, appear willing to give Wray what he wants. At the end of a two-hour House Appropriations subcommittee hearing last month, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) thanked Wray for being “overly generous with his time,” praised his “service to the country,” and commended Wray’s “brilliant career.”

With friends like these . . .

That’s why Greene has an uphill battle to win support to impeach both Graves and Wray. She submitted impeachment resolutions for both officials on Wednesday. The proposals move to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.

Advancing impeachment proceedings for Graves and Wray should be a no-brainer for Republicans in Congress. As I wrote earlier this week, the Biden regime’s double standard of justice runs directly through Graves’ office. Wray finally needs to publicly answer for numerous scandals on his watch, not the least of which is cooking the books to prove his false claim that “domestic violent extremists” pose the greatest national security threat. Congressional hearings would force Graves and Wray to account for their malfeasance even if a Senate vote to convict both men would be dead on arrival.

Graves, Wray, and Garland should be put on notice that budget cuts, not boosts, are headed their way next year. A proposal to construct a massive new FBI headquarters outside of D.C. should be scuttled immediately. And the FBI’s Washington Field Office, irredeemably corrupt and politicized as the Durham report once again demonstrated, should be shuttered for good.

A separate report issued this week by the House weaponization subcommittee detailed more bad behavior by officials in the Washington Field Office, including pressuring the Boston FBI to investigate lawful political protesters and working with Bank of America to obtain “confidential customer data” of those who traveled to D.C. for January 6.

Pearl-clutching over the Russian collusion farce does no good at this point. As Trump stated, the professional progeny of Comey and company are hard at work with arguably greater success than the original scam artists—and the worst is yet to come.

The minimal tools to, at the very least, embarrass top officials and expose the existing rot within the Justice Department are in the hands of House Republicans. They would do well to use them.

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Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of January 6: How Democrats Used the Capitol Protest to Launch a War on Terror Against the Political Right and Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried―And Failed―To Take Down the President. Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review. She also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. She is the co-host of the “Happy Hour Podcast with Julie and Liz.” She is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University and lives in suburban Chicago with her husband and two daughters.
Photo “U.S. Department of Justice” by Tony Webster. CC BY 2.0.


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