Attorney General Merrick Garland said he agrees with special counsel Jack Smith’s assertion that the judicial system should provide “speedy trials” for former President Donald Trump — who appears to be attempting to delay them as long as possible.
“The special prosecutor has said from the beginning that he thinks public interest requires a speedy trial, which I agree with,” Garland said in an interview with CNN released Friday.
Trump’s election interference case is currently scheduled to go to trial in March, followed in May by his classified documents case, but both dates are uncertain. Smith said in a court filing that Trump is filing motions with the goal of delaying his trials “at any cost.”
Trump’s legal maneuvering also stands to push his trials uncomfortably close to Election Day, when Trump is widely expected to face off against President Joe Biden. The Justice Department has a policy of avoiding elections as a time for prosecuting elected officials to avoid appearing politically biased.
Garland stressed that Smith’s cases against Trump were brought last year.
“With respect to the public, I hope they will see, not only from what we’ve done but from the outcomes of the cases and the way in which the special counsel is proceeding, that we have kept politics out of this,” Garland said.
Asked about the perception among many Republican voters that the cases are politically motivated, Garland replied, “Look, of course, it concerns me. What we have to do is show by the acts that we take that we’re following the law, that we’re following the facts.”
The attorney general demurred when CNN reporter Evan Perez asked if he had a specific date in mind that would make it “too late to bring these trials to fruition.”
Garland said, “It is now in the hands of the judicial system, not in our hands.”
When Perez asked whether he thought the department took “too long” to bring the cases to start with, the attorney general replied that special prosecutors, like Smith, “brought the cases when they thought they were ready.”
On the campaign trail, Trump has repeatedly characterized the criminal cases against him as an attempt by Biden to sink his leading opponent.
Garland has said that if Biden ever pressured him to take action against Trump, he would quit. As special counsel, Smith is afforded a level of independence; even though he reports to Garland, he is not subject to “day-to-day supervision.”
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