President Biden and the White House blame Merrick Garland for not reining in Special Counsel Hur, and Garland will be gone if Biden wins a second term.
Biden and his closest advisers believe Hur went well beyond his purview and was gratuitous and misleading in his descriptions, according to those two people, who were granted anonymity to speak freely. And they put part of the blame on Garland, who they say should have demanded edits to Hur’s report, including around the descriptions of Biden’s faltering memory.
In White House meetings, aides have questioned why Garland felt the need to appoint a special counsel in the first place, though Biden has publicly said he supported the decision.
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While Biden himself has not weighed in on Garland’s future, most of the president’s senior advisers do not believe that the attorney general would remain in his post for a possible second term, according to the two people.
The report also said that frustration has been steadily building with Garland, and no one in the White House is happy with the job that he is doing.
Why Garland Won’t Be Fired Now?
In terms of governance and politics, there are good reasons for not firing Garland now. In governance terms, firing the Attorney General and destabilizing the Department of Justice months before an election where Trump is threatening violence and the nation is facing potential interference from foreign actors would be a terrible idea. As bad as Garland has been handling anything Biden-related, destabilizing DOJ right now might leave the country vulnerable to attack before the 2024 election,
Politically, Biden has built his brand on stability, so firing Garland would run counter to his message and generate damaging headlines and drama before an election. It will definitely not help the President if he fires his AG months before voters go to the polls.
As Sarah Jones said in a recent edition of the Politicus Pod, “We are fighting encroaching authoritarianism, and this requires a certain temperament and spine. Garland is a brilliant person with high integrity, but we can see how easily exploited is his excessive tendency toward congeniality and constitutionalism. Not every person with integrity can be a warrior, though, and Garland is showing himself to be incapable of rising to this moment in history.”
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Merrick Garland as attorney general is a choice that didn’t work, and if Biden wins in November, he will go in a different direction.
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Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association