". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


‘Stonewalled’: GOP Lawmakers Decry AG Garland’s Refusal to Answer Questions during Hearing

June 5, 2024

In the aftermath of U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s testimony before a House Oversight Committee hearing on Tuesday, Republican lawmakers are contending that Garland’s repeated refusal to directly answer questions about ethics concerns within the Department of Justice (DOJ) is likely a tacit admittance of guilt.

The fireworks began at the very beginning of the Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government hearing, when Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) asked Garland to turn over all communications between the DOJ and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, as well any DOJ communications with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and New York Attorney General Letitia James in order to find out if there was any collusion between the U.S. government and New York’s state officials in the prosecution of former President Donald Trump.

“We do not control those offices,” Garland responded. Without giving a direct answer, he went on to say that the DOJ would “respond appropriately” if the communications were formally requested.

Later in the hearing, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) lamented Garland’s repeated non-responsiveness to questions before attempting to get the attorney general to answer if he was consulted on a specific reason the DOJ gave for not releasing the full audio of Special Counsel Robert Hur’s questioning of President Joe Biden regarding his mishandling of classified documents.

“I’m not going to talk about internal department deliberations,” Garland responded.

Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.), who also questioned Garland during the hearing, further confirmed how uncooperative Garland behaved during Tuesday’s edition of “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins.”

“[He] stonewalled,” she underscored. “[He was] not interested in actually sharing information [and] has no interest in assisting us with our congressional and constitutional responsibility of oversight. He did everything he could to deflect answering the questions. And it was for him five or six hours of just simply saying, ‘I can’t answer that, I don’t know, that’s something that we’re investigating.’ And as a result, we didn’t learn what we should be entitled to learn, which is to what extent he’s been engaged and involved with things like the Fani Willis prosecution in Georgia and the catastrophe that just recently happened in New York with the conviction of President Trump.”

Hageman went on to detail her questioning of Garland regarding the possible illegal access of private bank records that the DOJ may be engaging in using artificial intelligence (AI).

“[W]e have learned that the IRS and the Department of Justice have been using AI to actually access the bank records of American citizens,” she explained. “… [An IRS whistleblower] said that the IRS and DOJ were doing this … to make sure that we’re paying all of the taxes that were required to pay. [Apparently] lower income [and] middle class [people] are the ones that are being targeted with AI so that they can assess and access and monitor our spending habits and our income so that they know whether we’re paying our taxes. … So [Rep.] Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and I have sent a letter. We received a very non-satisfying response. And we’re asking Mr. Garland to provide additional information [as] to what extent AI is being used to violate our Fourth Amendment rights.”

The Wyoming congresswoman further pointed out that the responses that Congress receives from the DOJ regarding official inquiries appear to be designed to deceive.

“The letters that we receive in response are not necessarily designed to get us the information, or to be held accountable for the decisions that are made, it is to deflect attention and to … stonewall,” she observed. “This is one of the reasons why the Deep State really is congruous with the unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. What you have is these agencies that are staffed with people who do not believe that Congress should have any oversight. … We’re really moving to a system where we are being governed by an unelected bureaucracy, rather than being the republic that we are with a representative form of government.”

Hageman concluded by emphasizing the importance of Congress’s power to determine the budget of government agencies as a way to encourage cooperation with investigations.

“[P]art of the battle that we have as Congress attempts to hold these administrative agencies accountable, their first response is, ‘How do we avoid being held accountable by Congress?’ That’s why I do think it’s critically important that we start using the power of the purse much more than we do. And in fact, I think when these agencies come in, we find a way to cut their budget by 10, 20, 30, 40% if they won’t answer questions.”

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.