Merrick Garland, press conference, 2023
Attorney General Merrick Garland specking press conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC, August 11, 2023. Photo credit: Tom Williams (CQ Roll Call) / LOC / Wikimedia

So far, there hasn’t been a stunt House Republicans haven’t liked. But will they draw a line at trying to have the attorney general arrested?

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Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) said on Sunday that her inherent contempt resolution, which would allow the House sergeant at arms to arrest Attorney General Merrick Garland, would be coming to a vote soon.

It remains to be seen whether House Republicans really want to escalate this manufactured conflict over an audio tape of President Joe Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur. It is part of the latter’s probe of whether the president kept classified documents at his home in Delaware. 

Hur ultimately decided not to press charges but issued a damning report that described Biden as a “sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” This feeds right into the hands of Donald Trump, who is trying to portrait his likely opponent in the November election as a doddering old man. 

And that is why House Republicans are not satisfied with the transcript of that interview, which they have had for months. 

They want the tape to use it as a campaign tool.

That is why they held Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt and suggested that he be prosecuted, which the Department of Justice (DOJ) declined to do earlier this week. 

So far, none of this has been surprising in any way, and, in the end, GOP lawmakers got what they wanted: While the DOJ’s move was expected (the department acted the same way in 2019 when Democrats were the ones voting to hold Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, in contempt), Republicans get to claim that Garland views himself as “above the law.” 

In addition, they can also tell their voters that the video of the interview must show something absolutely horrible or DOJ would release it.

Now, however, Luna wants to escalate this political charade by authorizing the House sergeant at arms to arrest Garland.

This would be done as the result of something called an “inherent contempt resolution,” a tool that has not been used for more than 100 years. 

However, according to Luna, the House will vote on hers in the near future. 

“What that allows Congress to do is to really be the punitive arm and really hold Garland accountable,” Luna said on Fox News, adding that she wants Garland to be arrested and the tapes to be seized. 

The attorney general would then be taken to the House where a “trial” would be conducted. 

While the theatrics of such a process would be in line with the stunts GOP lawmakers have been pulling all year, arresting Garland may be a step too far for House Republicans.

That is especially true because, to any objective observer, it would call into question two lines of attack they (and Trump) have been using.

Republicans have been claiming that the prosecution of the former president has shown that Biden is “weaponizing” the justice system against them, and that there are two tiers of justice. 

While that narrative has already taken a beating with the conviction of the president’s son, it will look even less credible when the house GOP votes to have the nation’s top law enforcement arrested with an obscure maneuver that, some may argue, constitutes a weaponization of the powers of Congress.


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