Recent reports have highlighted a growing rift between President Joe Biden and his Attorney General Merrick Garland. White House aides, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Wall Street Journal that the relationship between the two has become “deeply strained” and filled with “resignation and distrust.”
This appears to be due to Garland’s recent actions, including appointing a special counsel to investigate the activities of first son Hunter Biden. Delaware US Attorney David Weiss, who had previously been slow to act on the investigation, was chosen by Garland to lead the probe. This decision has raised eyebrows as Weiss has close ties to the Biden family and was originally thought to be protecting Hunter from scrutiny.
In addition, Garland also authorized the special counsel to bring gun charges against Hunter Biden after an initial plea deal fell apart in the wake of public scrutiny and congressional pressure. This has angered some in the White House who feel that the Attorney General is not doing enough to protect the President’s family.
It’s not just the Hunter Biden investigation that has caused tension between Biden and Garland. The Attorney General also appointed a special counsel to look into the President’s retention and storage of classified documents, which became a source of embarrassment for the administration.
These apparent attacks on the Biden family have led some to draw comparisons to former President Donald Trump’s relationship with his own Attorneys General. Trump, infamous for his belief that the Justice Department should shield him from any legal scrutiny, frequently berated his Attorneys General for not doing his bidding.
Democratic leaders and the media were quick to condemn Trump’s behavior, but have been largely silent on Biden’s treatment of Garland.
Despite this, Garland has displayed a willingness to please the White House, most notably by charging Trump with obstruction of justice after the Mueller investigation found no evidence of Russian collusion. He also instructed the FBI to look into parents who protested at school board meetings, at the urging of the White House.
This suggests that while Garland may not be living up to the high standards of independence set by his predecessors, he is still willing to play ball with the White House when it suits him.
The parallels between Trump and Biden when it comes to the Justice Department’s role in protecting the President are striking, and raise questions about the true level of independence of the Department. Despite political rhetoric, it appears that when it comes to protecting themselves and their families, both presidents had similar expectations of their Attorneys General.