230 Comments

Thank you, Joyce, for the spot on commentary on Garland. Maybe Garland had to shift from being a judge who is handed a case to an AG who is more proactive. But I trust Biden’s picks for his Cabinet. Many have underestimated Biden, and they are always proven wrong. It is refreshing to see someone this high up in government who cares so much about the people he is serving. Never second guess that commitment. It is innate.

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Joe Biden was maybe my fifth choice in the Democratic primary, but of course I campaigned and voted for Biden-Harris. It was the cabinet picks that won really won me over: this guy knew his stuff and evidently was getting great advice from those around him. What this administration has accomplished with Congress, with margins that range from slim to non-existent, is astonishing.

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I will say he was not my first choice and my now 94 year old mother was always in his corner. I said he was too old. But out of anyone able to run for president, he was the best choice for this time. I think he is the best president in my lifetime and that goes back to Kennedy. Mom’s always right when it comes to politics. So anyone who is critical of an older person’s cognitive ability, talk to my mom for 15 minutes. She’ll run circles around you!

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I love your mom and I love Joe Biden. I’ve supported him from the get-go as he understands the Taiwan agreement as few people do. He was a young Senator, when Victor Li wrote it (purposely making it ambiguous has only Victor could do). He never ever made missteps, or misspeaks about it as he was accused of doing he knows exactly what is and is not ambiguous about it, and he understands very well that we have the right to protect Taijuan. And so does China by the way. When Biden stopped in South Korea, on his way to visit Japan last year, he make no mistake when he said we would defend Taiwan. I am so blistered all the time when people criticize Joe Biden. He spent his entire first year in office repairing the damage Trump had done across the Atlantic and the Pacific.

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I'm leaning in that direction, partly because LBJ's huge domestic achievements were almost (excuse the word) trumped by his failings in foreign policy. At the same time, well, Obama, like Biden, inherited a colossal Republican-created mess, got stuck with the loony-tunes Tea Party, and still managed the Affordable Care Act. The challenge before the Biden administration and the Democrats goes beyond recovering from Trumpism -- they've got to pull the country out of the death spiral that began with the Reagan administration. And you know what? I think they're up to it!

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I agree with you whole-heartedly! I believe given his second term, and with majorities in both houses, even those prone to voting other than Democrat will begin to see the benefits of someone who actually does his best for the citizens of America. I also think he is aware of the dangers of 'oligarchy', and will continue to support the middle class, just as he should. I continue to support him.

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founding

Getting AND TAKING good advice. Unlike someone else we could name.

This country is big and complicated. Someone who thinks he is THE expert on everything is most dangerous.

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This is such an important point! If you aren't getting advice from many of those different places that make up the USA, you can't do the job. And the Republicans in general are getting 99% of their advice from straight white guys (and the women who at least pretend to love them).

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founding

And straight orange guys sigh.

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founding

Should have said crooked orange guys

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I agree, Susanna.

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I, too,have been frustrated with AG Garland’s slow pace. But the speed with which Special Counsel Smith moved after his appointment leads me to believe there was a lot going on behind the scenes at DOJ prior to that appointment.

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It's also worthwhile remembering the DoJ Garland inherited was still salted with Trump-era hires and appointees; any investigation into the extent of Trump's culpability for the January 6th insurrection--which I'm morally certain was begun, if very quietly, before Garland was even confirmed--would by necessity have to be kept under wraps till such time as any possible saboteurs or leakers had been neutralized and/or removed from office.

I have that moral certainty of Garland's early and continuous engagement in prosecuting Trump for two reasons: 1.) In no universe could Jack Smith have built such a solid, airtight case against Trump et al in that extremely narrow window of time--less than nine months--unless he'd inherited an investigation that was almost entirely complete. 2.) The J-6 investigation had to be conducted in closest-possible confidence to protect the Biden administration from any accusations of its having its finger on the scale, so to speak; had there been rumors of what was coming, rabid right-wing pundits--Hannity, Carlson, you know them--would've had a field day, tarnishing the investigation day after day for nearly two years to the point of its becoming unrecognizable as legitimate. That sucks, I know, and so does the fact the DoJ is now under the gun to get to trial, but I firmly believe Garland was wise to've gone about investigating this horror-show in as much secrecy as I believe he did.

Put it this way: time will tell, won't it?

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Agree completely Holly.

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Exactly, Alan. Thank you for putting it so well. Sometimes patience coupled with persistence in early stages of any complex investigation is what enables success. In this case I think the early hints that something was happening emerged not from a vaccuum, but from a careful assemblage of information that resulted in a successful and solid investigation.

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If nothing else, the naming of Jack Smith as SC, and the quite honestly breathtaking speed with which he has orchestrated the two chief criminal indictments against "Mr tRump", has certainly taken much of the heat away from AG Garland, and away from a daily spotlight in order for him to supervise the workings of Main Justice minus calls for his removal, or much, much worse.

Win-win, best to expect in today's climate of rank polarization and hardly concealed verbal violence against public officials, particularly and especially Democrats.

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Oct 3, 2023·edited Oct 4, 2023

While I so appreciate Joyce's perspective and highly respect her, I must admit I don't feel the same way about Merrick Garland, aside from his appointment of Jack Smith. Not only has Smith moved forward in record time (perhaps due to the January 6 Select Committee report and the Mueller Investigation), but all of his filings about Trump's constant abuses suggest a commitment to seeking justice that was sadly lacking for the first 2 1/2 years of Garland's tenure, when Trump and his co-conspirators were largely ignored, and then allowed to drag things out interminably.

I believe that if Garland had fully investigated Mark Meadows when the Select Committee issued a criminal referral on him to the DOJ (He waited six months, never indicted Meadows, and then quashed the case), it would have broken the Insurrection case wide open, as Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony did. And, if he had enforced the committee's subpoenas for McCarthy, Biggs, Brooks, Jordan, and Perry, it would have highlighted the role that at least five Congressional Republicans played in the Insurrection, coup, and plot to overturn the 2020 election. Both actions would have put Republicans on notice, rather than emboldening them. At the very least, voters could have known which members of Congress, who were running for reelection, were being investigated.

I believe that allowing Trump and the Republican Party to continue their disinformation campaign in which they fomented violence against "public officials, particularly Democrats" for the first 2 1/2 years of the Biden presidency, without taking any action or showing any interest in going after the highest level people--has had a devastating impact on our democracy.

FYI...During Watergate, the following people were indicted and convicted: John Mitchell, former Attorney General and Director of the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP); H.R. Haldeman, Chief of Staff; John Ehrlichman, Assistant to the President; Charles Colson, Special Counsel to the President ; Robert Mardian, former aide to Mr. Mitchell; Kenneth Parkinson, CREEP attorney; and Gordon Strachan, former aide to Mr. Haldeman, among others.

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All of this is largely true, BUT - yes, the disqualifying BUT - Joe Biden, early in his presidency, let it be known that prosecuting his predecessor for potential criminal acts committed whilst in office was off the table, and AG Garland could take from that what he reckoned, but the message was clear: don't go there. Sure, tRump has already intimated that prosecuting Joe Biden would be one of his first moves by "his" DOJ, hardly an endorsement for such tactics by Biden vis-à-vis tRump. The general argument here is what the courts didn't do, the voters gave their verdict in 2020...and under the circumstances it's the best we could hope for...it is what it is.

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A few hours ago, I started editing what I had written, and didn't see your comment until I posted it. I don't know what the answer is, but I found the following testimony by Rachel Kleinfeld from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to the Select Committee on March 21, 2022 about "The Rise in Political Violence in the United States and Damage to Our Democracy" very interesting. And, I wonder what the impact has been of Biden's and Garland's reluctance to hold Trump responsible for such a long time.

https://carnegieendowment.org/2022/03/31/rise-in-political-violence-in-united-states-and-damage-to-our-democracy-pub-87584

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Watergate prosecutors and indictees were of the same party

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True!

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that's my take as well...

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Thank you for your analysis. I cried when president Obama nominated him to the Supreme Court. Instead of that great honor, he has been given the most important job of our times. The former guy and his frothing minions present horrifying danger and AG Garland has had to deal with that threat as he has tried to protect the rule of law. May God bless him and keep him safe.

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I’ve viewed Garland as methodically careful; measured, but deliberate. Men like this provide a powerful protection to the rule of law as they deal with criminally genius actors that use the inevitable loopholes in the procedures of the law to manipulate the investigations into their crimes. I am trusting that Garland understands their gambits and is two moves ahead

Faith in the system, and the ethical mind of him that hired him

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Absolutely necessary to strictly maintain the rule of law, down to minutiae, when dealing with a conniving, manipulative person like Trump. He would be delighted to have Jack Smith and AG Garland get down in the mud with him. That's his comfort zone.

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I agree. His comfort zone is the mud. But he’d rather be rolling with dictators and despots. That is his true comfort zone. He has stated that he has no respect for the intelligence sector of the United States. He has proven that he has no respect for the military with their honorable service. But he enjoys the likes of Putin and others.

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Dave, I hit 'like' earlier today - and I like this better the second time I looked at it, having read others' comments. I agree absolutely that we have the right person in Garland: we need his careful, deliberate thought process. He had Jack Smith's case nearly ready to go - and hired Jack Smith with his unique skill set that included prosecuting former despot presidents of foreign countries. I'm thinking there is an international piece, possibly because of documents missing from Top Secret folders, and indictments or upgraded indictments could still be made. I think we need to stay tuned to see what Jack Smith has up his sleeve with his buddy/deputy from The Hague. I keep thinking it's extra judicial, but we will see. And I like that the 'ducks were in the row' before Garland fired his shot.

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In 1983 I lived in West Berlin. I also traveled in what was then East Germany. As a Stanford student, I studied history.

Once it has happened here, how many of us will stop saying "It can't happen here"?

Perhaps, after all, Garland does actually recognize fascism. May his approach end up being effective. It's a new genre, these recent years: The Rule of Law Thriller Series. Will the rule of law survive?

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That's exactly it. This is 1930s Germany ALL over again. Considering they took a page out of our Jim Crow laws. People need to wake TF up!

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founding

I was pleased to see him on TV and to hear what he’d talked about. I was quite moved.

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I'm almost glad his nomination to the Supreme Court was not allowed (by those scurrilous Republicans). They've given us an Attorney General who has shown he has the fortitude and acumen to handle these prosecutions fairly and honestly, with great respect for the Constitution, and untiring effort. I hope he remains in good health and completes the task of bringing T**** to justice. My daughter works for the DOJ, and I couldn't be prouder.

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This is all fine and good but the fact that he hasn't charged the leaders of Moms for Liberty and Chaya from Libs of Tik Tok with hate crimes means he doesn't give a shit about protecting marginalized communities from vicious lie-filled attacks that have caused violence to ensue. I'm sick of his fecklessness. My entire LGBTQ community is terrified for our future (as is every Black and Latine person) and if you aren't a part of our communities you will never understand what it's like to have more rights in 2016 nationwide than today.

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Thus is an essential point and perspective. The main reason that our more privileged, managerial class, including especially the press, is not madly sounding alarms about Trump and MAGA as an authoritarian movement -- posing an existential threat to our democratic republic -- is because we more privileged have been little affected by most of the authoritarians’ actions. In many ways we are buffered by the non-privileged. But the non-privileged, as well as significant “minority” cohorts are experiencing direct effects, including deprivation of fundamental rights, harassment, intimidation, violence, fear, vulnerability, and uncertainty. We privileged have the privilege of looking away, of thinking it doesn’t involve us or can’t touch us; of assuring ourselves that things will all settle down and just go back to normal. This is the privileged cohorts was of enabling the forces of evil -- our version of “Stand back and stand by.”

This is how authoritarian movements work. We all know this. We need to be smarter and bolder, and get our privileged **sses into this fight.

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Thank you Jon. This is the kind of allyship we need.

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Comment of the day.

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Give him time. With all that's on his plate, the DOJ has to deal with the actual violent attacks on a whole host of people: all the prosecutors and witnesses in the T**** trials, for instance. I don't think your evaluation of him is anywhere near the truth.

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We don't have any more time. There have been violent attacks on trans kids (and in some cases trans adults) in every GOP controlled state because THEY ARE BARRED FROM GETTING GENDER AFFIRMING CARE and NO that doesn't include surgery for trans kids since that doesn't happen until they are at least 18 years old. This is a crisis. If you are a white cisgender heterosexual man you have no idea what it's like for the rest of us.

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Oct 3, 2023·edited Oct 3, 2023

You used the word 'feckless' to describe the Attorney General. That is simply not true. You blame, properly, the GOP controlled states for the violent attacks. Whatever the DOJ can do to prosecute those attacks (and I'm under the assumption that local law enforcement is involved) will be done. But you are wrong in your assessment of Merrick Garland and the DOJ. I simply won't have it.

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When? After trans kids are murdered for being their authentic selves? Seriously, your privilege is showing. Also, stop idolizing prominent people because that's what you are doing here.

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Carrie, the problem here is that you are trying to lay things on one man who does not have the power to do everything. I have gay and trans grandkids. Thank goodness they live in a relatively safe place. But that is because the state where they live has taken the steps toward making it that way. Your diatribes (I am sorry to have to use that word, but that is what they are) are not contributing to the discussion you need, which is how do we work together at the local level to build thoughtful awareness, how do we get people to care, and at the state level, how do we elect legislators and city officials who "get it" and take the actions we need to keep ALL of us safe? Highjacking someone else's discussion is not going to do it. But maybe if you wrote joyce and asked her to address some of your concerns, she might consider it. I can't speak for her, but I can say that you are not doing my grandkids or your community any favors by insulting people who are simply having a discussion about something else.

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Thanks, Annie. Well written. Carrie's passionate defense of her community reminds me of my early college days. Lots of left wing rhetoric that hopefully will morph into a greater understanding of how congenial discussions work.

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This is exactly what they told people in Germany in the 30s. And yet this is EXACTLY what's happening in our country right now. LGBTQ+ people are being hunted. 250k people have moved from their homes because of it. Do NOT presume to have any clue what someone's lived experience is. As a Jewish woman, we are on the brink of a Holocaust in this nation, make no mistake, and Garland in all his FedSoc glory, is ignoring it, because he's clearly not stupid.

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Wrong on both counts.

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The fact that you cannot see the world through other people's eyes speaks volumes. I'm done talking with you.

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Oct 3, 2023·edited Oct 3, 2023

I hear you. The abuse that and the loss of rights that the LGBTQ community has suffered under Republicans is egregious. The loss of rights and access to life-saving care is the result of grievance - based politics. The physical threats and outright attacks are criminal. Though they are slightly different, the political leads to the physical.

We as a society need to counter both kinds of abuse, political and physical, using multiple approaches. The DOJ's job is to prosecute physical acts of violence. OUR political job is to restore rights to a deserving minority and to protect those rights. Rest assured that your political power is greater than your numbers. However, politics is slow, I agree, too slow as good people suffer.

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As Joyce mentioned, we don’t know what goes on behind the scenes in the early days of an investigation. It’s hard to be patient when fighting a battle. One thing we can do is get out the vote so that these horrific laws can be turned around.

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While you have some valid points, I would like to ask what are you doing to help? Hateful talk is what we need to stop doing.

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I have worked on numerous Democratic campaigns for 20 years and done volunteer work for many LGBTQ orgs. This is why I'm so infuriated at the slow pace of the DOJ. I've put in the work.

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Thank you! I understand and support you and the causes.

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Good lord stop with the pearl clutching and LISTEN to people when they tell you they are being HARMED.

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I empathize and sympathize with everything you’ve stated and find it outrageous that this is happening as we speak. And I do understand what it’s like to have more rights in decades past than now, and I’m going back to 1973. May we all band together to stop this tragic madness that has a minority of citizens telling the majority of citizens how to live our lives.

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Bitterness and hate won’t get you there.

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I think he played it smart. The Jan 6th Committee's work publicly let us know what happened, which put a majority of us on the DOJ's side when they started protections. AG Garland doesn't brag or prematurely let on what he and the DoJ are up to. Sorry we can't know in the beginning but there is good reason.

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"prosecutions" not "protections" 🙄

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I appreciate that Merrick Garland has one of the toughest jobs in our government. What good does it do to win by putting your thumb on the balance, even if the balance is towards what appears to be a better outcome, one we like more and want to see sooner? Thoughtful, thorough, and patient are the traits we want people to have before they access the power of their office to initiate the wheels of justice, since those wheels are heavy and cannot undo what they do. I often wonder how much clean up he faced within the department when he was appointed and how careful he needed to be to find the true civil servants and to appropriately address the people who liked how the former guy rolled. Putting out a fire is always easier than preventing one. I think Mr. Garland has had to do both and we just don't get see all the work that takes, as you noted.

Thank you for your thoughtful analysis. It is a relief to know that many people want a better Justice Department and a better Democracy and not just what we can get if we grab it.

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Insightful and generous, Ms Wasser. Thank you.

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founding

I’m not so sure we lost a year. We all, to quickly, got used to the Barr experience of meddling and talking publicly to persuade the Country... “totally exonerated”, “no Russia interference”, etc.

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The Garland interview brought me to tears as does your assessment here. It is so dreadful to watch Americans lash out, harm, threaten, demean and belittle each other. Some of this hate is from a person's own sense of being threatened by others.....This threat is displaced from the economic harm done by our structure of making a living vs making an empire, and the harm is often seen as being done by those lowest on the economic ladder. Look up for the real threat. Our laws must protect all of us not just the top being granted favor.

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founding

Dreadful to see hate as so many people's deriving emotion, Trump radiates it.

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I don’t think we lost a year. I am no fan of DOJ, BUT in this case, the time it took the government to bring the January 6 case may well have saved two years. We need to keep in mind the important role played by the January 6 Select Committee and its brilliantly choreographed hearings.

First. The staff and its investigators reviewed tens of thousands of critical documents and over a thousand people. Developing this evidence permitted the government to narrow its own investigative efforts and may have uncovered testimony that the prosecutors would not have.

Speaking to a Congressional investigator is a lot different than speaking to an FBI agent. A witness will be far more relaxed and far more willing to cooperate if they don’t have to be concerned with their own exposure. And if the FBI approached them first, a good percentage would have “lawyered up” and I know I would have told the agents to pound sand. The prosecutors would have been forced to get blanket 6001 immunity authorization from DOJ so that it could automatically offer all these people. If DOJ went first, it would have taken three times as long to get only some of the information the Select Committee did.

It will be sometime before we know if this was Garland’s concern all along, but prosecuting political opponents is a feature autocratic regimes. Even if a majority of Trump’s supporters did not watch the Select Committee’s televised hearings, most were aware they were going on, and the vast majority of Americans either saw clips from the hearings or heard about what was coming out in public.

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Well said, Mr May.

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Jon, you are spot on as usual. I love your depth.

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Thank you Joyce, for again thoughtfully giving us a view into the DOJ from your experienced point of view. I will admit that your voice brings a calming to my anxious self. I think Merrick Garland was always going to be in a thankless position. If he charged into a Trump investigation early in his tenure, the criticism from the right would have been labeled political retaliation by the President and perhaps even retaliation against Republicans in general. We all do still remember their treatment of his Supreme Court nomination. I think he was as careful and deliberate as he needed to be. And he probably thought timing wasn’t as big of an issue as who would have guessed Trump would ever run again. I personally think history will show that his approach was correct in bringing justice and protecting our fragile democracy. And I have to believe in our rule of law and it’s protection our democracy.

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While I agree with your take on the innate honor of Merrick Garland, it bears mentioning that however well-intentioned his painfully slow, methodical process may be he's made a mistake. The two are not mutually exclusive.

I also think it interesting that DTs decades long M.O. of using the courts to bully opponents into submission – either you yield to my double-dealing business methods or I'll sue you in court, and you cannot afford to go that route against me and my money – is failing this time because his opponent is the government, which has no concerns about the cost of litigation.

Whatever we think of Garland's methods, today or years later when we might know more of the details, we may well have the courts to thank for saving our democracy (let's hope; it's not over yet).

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AG Garland, in the best traditions of our democracy, encourages us all to listen to our ‘better angels’. During these difficult and dangerous times, I hope enough of us are listening and take his advice to heart.

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