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Attorney General Grilled about Golden Toilet and More by Judiciary Committee

Attorney General Merrick Garland faced rancorous questioning by Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee.

Attorney General Merrick Garland faced rancorous questioning Wednesday at the hands of Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee. The 44-member panel, first created in 1816 (now-Senator Chuck Grassley, R-IA, was an original member) is chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R. OH); the ranking member is Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D. NY).

Merrick Garland questioned by House Judiciary Committee. Caricature by DonkeyHotey.
Merrick Garland, caricature by DonkeyHotey, flickr.com.

In his opening statement, Jordan derided the “weaponized” FBI for “raiding former President Donald J. Trump’s private residence,” despite Trump’s having cooperated “in every conceivable way” with the agency. He complained that one FBI agent even “took a dump in the golden toilet” and that the plumbing had to be replaced. (Trump reportedly held a raffle to scare up funds for the operation, offering a scholarship to Trump University as first prize; second prize was two scholarships).

Jordan went on to characterize justice in the U.S. as “two-tiered” for Republicans and Democrats; and to allude to interoffice Department of Justice memos, referring to members of the Roman Catholic faith as “extremists.”

When he took the dais, ranking member Nadler called the day’s proceedings “Just one political stunt after another.” He characterized the antics of the Republican members of the committee as “Climbing in and out of a clown car.” He went on to lament the issues that the Republican majority was ignoring, including gun violence and the alarming rise of anti-Semitism. At which point Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R. GA), seated in the gallery, rose to her feet to remind the members of “Jewish space lasers” until she was ruled out of order. Chairman Jordan then swore Garland in.

Merrick Garland, a former federal judge and a nominee to the Supreme Court by President Obama, was approved as Attorney General by the Senate on March 11, 2021. In his opening statement, Garland praised the selflessness and commitment of the 115,000 employees of the DOJ. He said the FBI and DOJ guaranteed adherence to the rule of law, “without fear or favor.” He concluded by citing the fact that the FBI impeded child sexual trafficking and exploitation. At which point Rep. Matt Gaetz (R. FL) jumped to his feet and hotly demanded that the witness’s remarks be stricken from the record. When Nadler said that Gaetz was out of order, the congressman shook his meaty fist in anger at the ranking member.

One contentious remark made several times by the Republican majority on the Judiciary Committee was that the prosecution of presidential son Hunter Biden by Special Prosecutor David Weiss was not progressing fast enough. Garland replied that Weiss was an appointee of former president Donald Trump and that Garland had pledged during his Senate confirmation hearings not to interfere in Weiss’s work. He advised the committee members to take up the issue with the Federalist Society or perhaps with Mitch McConnell himself. After Garland’s remarks, the Republican committee members stewed unhappily.

Rep. Victoria Spartz (R. IN), the first Ukrainian-born House member, railed against prosecution of the Jan. 6 insurgents, maintaining that they “were fed up with not being served by their government.” She asked Garland, “Are you aware that a lot of Americans are afraid of being persecuted by their government, over such trivial issues as tourism and assembly?” When Garland replied that insurrections were illegal, Spartz snarled that Garland was emblematic of a “George Soros bad Jew.”

Near the end of the hearing, when prodded about allegations of targeting Roman Catholics for surveillance and prosecution, Garland objected, citing his own religous heritage (Some of his family members perished in the Holocaust) and stating that suggestions of untoward behavior is “outrageous.” Chairman Jordan, who throughout the hearing spoke in a loud, clamorous voice, reminiscent of a junkyard dog, leaped to his feet and began howling to the rafters that Garland “was toast” and would be defunded.

The hearing, which lasted for six hours, finally concluded when a tiny clown car raced up the Capitol and all 25 members of the majority party filed inside and sped away.

Bill Tope