A growing docket of politically fraught cases is confronting Attorney General Merrick Garland as he marks his first year in office, challenging his efforts to keep the Justice Department out of the partisan battles that dogged his predecessors, the Wall Street Journal reports. At the top of the list is a potential prosecution of former President Trump, a prospect heightened after the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol filed papers laying out argument for a possible criminal case. He also inherited a long-running investigation into the business dealings of President Biden’s son, Hunter, and other lingering probes stemming from unresolved issues in the 2016 election. Garland has been largely silent about those cases, in line with his stated intention to insulate the department by adhering to its longstanding norm of not discussing investigations. Critics, including some Democrats, say he risks undermining public confidence in DOJ by not saying more.
"We are not avoiding cases that are political or cases that are controversial or sensitive," Garland said in an exclusive interview with NPR. "What we are avoiding is making decisions on a political basis, on a partisan basis." Critics on the right are frustrated at how little he has said about the case involving Hunter Biden, who revealed in December 2020 that the U.S. Attorney in Delaware had launched a criminal investigation of his taxes. The investigation is examining other business and financial dealings involving the younger Biden. Republicans also argue that Garland politicized the department by instructing the FBI to help local officials address threats to school board members. He said the move was aimed at stopping violence against school staff; Republicans called it an effort to silence parents who speak out at meetings. "We begin with the cases that are right in front of us with the overt actions and then we build from there," Garland said.