U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice, in advance of the one year anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022.
Carolyn Kaster | Pool | Reuters
Attorney General Merrick Garland left open the possibility that former President Donald Trump could be prosecuted in connection with inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection in an exclusive interview Tuesday with NBC News.
“Look, we pursue justice without fear or favor,” Garland told NBC News’ Lester Holt, when asked whether indicting a former president would “arguably tear the country apart.”
“We intend to hold everyone, anyone who was criminally responsible for the events surrounding Jan. 6, for any attempt to interfere with the lawful transfer of power from one administration to another, accountable,” Garland continued. “That’s what we do.”
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“So if Donald Trump were to become a candidate for president again, that would not change your schedule or how you move forward or don’t move forward?” Holt asked.
“I’ll say again that we will hold accountable anyone who is criminally responsible for attempting to interfere with the transfer — legitimate, lawful transfer of power from one administration to the next,” Garland answered.
Garland’s remarks came as the Justice Department has faced increasing pressure to act decisively following weeks of testimony before the bipartisan Jan. 6 investigatory committee by former Trump administration officials who alleged that Trump incited the rioters who invaded the U.S. Capitol and that he ignored pleas of his own people to stop them.