A significant problem with the DOJ is its lack of will. Will is the beginning. Any person or other entity with lack of will becomes an under-achiever because they lack goals and the drive to attain them.

Another significant problem for the DOJ is the development of limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs are endemic on the better side of the political spectrum (sometimes called “left” or “liberal” or “progressive” politics). The Republicans don’t suffer from limiting beliefs. If anything, they suffer from delusions of grandeur, which is a huge problem when combined with defective ethics. They aren’t limited by a belief in the moral rightness of democracy, for example, or even the belief political ends should be obtained without violence. Republicans need more limiting beliefs, and Democrats need fewer.

But these limiting beliefs may just be an excuse for limited performance. The DOJ just doesn’t seem to be interested in pursuing justice if the perpetrators of injustice are too big and scary. So, the DOJ hides behind the premise that it should only follow the facts and enforce the law in the blindest and dullest fashion possible. They justify their inaction with the limiting belief that taking action would be political. It seems.

Let me make an analogy to science. In science, we want to understand the real laws of the universe. Scientists attempt to follow the facts and understand those laws.

But science would still be a body of superstitions if it weren’t for people with inspiration and the passion to put in the work. For example, we have a vastly better understanding of nuclear radiation as a result of the work of Marie Curie. But she had to overcome enormous barriers because she was a woman in a field dominated by men. Even the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences had to have its arm twisted to add her name to the 1903 Nobel Prize for physics, recognizing achievements in understanding radiation.

It was her drive and determination that got results. She had the will to understand this fascinating phenomenon and powered through the limiting beliefs that sought to keep her out of that work. She put in the hours, even at great personal cost.

In science, it takes inspiration and drive to achieve greatness. This comes from will, coupled with brains. The brains part likely isn’t the most important part. Remember what Thomas Edison told us, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” (Authorities may quibble over the exact ratio and the exact source, but I have it on good authority Edison gave us this quip. It was, in fact, carved in stone where I went to Junior High School.)

With regard to the DOJ, they need will. With will they can take the blinkers off and find the inspiration and the perspiration to get the job done.

Where does this needed will come from? In some sense, it has to come from the President. We had an active negative President, who sought to destroy the rule of law. It isn’t sufficient to leave the DOJ free-wheeling after such an administration. There needs to be a firm directive to go fix the problem. The prior President wanted to subvert the law, to weaken and to defeat it. The current President needs to instruct the DOJ to return to the law, with vigor.

We hear the DOJ should be independent of the Oval Office, but I suggest that this is a limiting belief when the interpretation is overly broad. The President needs to give the DOJ direction, and the DOJ should act on that direction. The President is ultimately responsible for the performance of the Executive Branch. He cannot abdicate responsibility for the DOJ.

In this case, that directive should be to investigate any credible evidence of official wrongdoing in the federal administration and file appropriate charges for all serious crimes found.

This does not mean the President should give the DOJ orders to persecute (note the different word) some particular person, even someone the President believes broke the law. But it is entirely proper for the President to point to someone where there is credible evidence that person committed a serious crime and instruct the DOJ investigate those allegations, following wherever the facts and the law might lead.

The key thing here is credible evidence. The DOJ is not a personal resource for presidential vendettas. And credible evidence isn’t just a feeling that someone is a bad person. It is objective evidence the person (group or other entity) acted illegally. And then, just like it would with any other credible evidence presented to it of serious crime, the DOJ should open an investigation and pursue the facts and the law.

But even beyond that, the DOJ on its own should have long since taken on certain investigations and we should already be seeing charges brought. Or, if the investigation legitimately cleared someone of wrongdoing, we should have a public report that, despite public evidence of criminal behavior, some agency has investigated and cleared that person of charges.

With regard to the last previous administration, the DOJ should have investigated and filed charges in court or publicly reported clearance on at least the following, publicly well-documented items:

  • Alleged crimes exposed by the Mueller Report. (See below for a list.)
  • Potential crimes within the DOJ where the Department covered up for Trump, such as AG Barr trying to deceive the public about the Mueller Report. (Some of these appear to be covered in the Mueller Report itself.)
  • Illegal attempts to obstruct justice either within the DOJ or with Congress (especially as pertains to the impeachment trials). This would include using the power of the presidency to deter witnesses from coming forward or testifying. Retaliatory actions, such as dismissal from a federal job without relevant cause, should also have been long since investigated.
  • Wire fraud stemming from the big lie. Both criminal and civil lawsuits are warranted. I’ve discussed this on Daily Kos in The Con Man.
  • Failure to comply with the emoluments clauses (which should result in a civil suit to recover the people’s money). I think this could also be initiated by the Treasury Department, since it is the Treasury that likely should have received this money.

There’s plenty of credible evidence of felonies in each of these areas. But to my knowledge none of these alleged crimes have even been investigated by the DOJ, let alone charges brought.

We are not talking here about criminal conduct pertaining to attempts to undermine the peaceful transfer of power to the new President (except that the big lie was a premise for much of that). Attorney General Merrick Garland can plausibly argue that the DOJ hasn’t worked its way up from the vandals that attacked the Capitol to a sufficient level to go after any administration official. I’m willing to give the DOJ the benefit of the doubt. And if they are diligently pursuing these kinds of charges against the previous President, I want them to do a thorough and complete job.

But all the allegations in the list above are of actions taken before that transfer of power. These are investigations and cases that should have been started in January last year, if not before. (Or, March, let’s say, after Garland took office.) And each point in the list is an allegation of very serious crimes. All by itself, each item is a huge scandal that requires cleansing down to the very root of the problem.

And yet, not a single report of any action has surfaced. It’s not credible to claim that by now an investigation in any of these areas should not have produced a criminal case, a civil case, or a report that someone had been cleared of wrongdoing. Or a grand jury empaneled. Or witnesses being called and complaining about it. The more likely explanation is that the DOJ hasn’t done anything on any of this.

I discussed earlier this week what I feel is a real lack of lawsuits against the many states that have passed laws intended (IMO) to tamper with elections, either through voter suppression or election interference after the fact. There seems to be some effort in this regard, and I’ll have more to say on it later. But if you look at the list above you can see that even without reference to interfering with the legitimate transfer of power after the presidential election and even without reference to the many voting rights cases, there is still an enormous amount of apparent criminal behavior over the last six or so years that has no visible sign of prosecution.

But then, how would we know?

The media isn’t any help. If some reporter were earning a living from covering the DOJ or the White House, they ought to have asked a question for each of these areas in the form of: “Are you pursuing a case for…”, where the ellipsis is replaced with one of the items on the bullet list.

“Are you following up on any of the crimes alleged in the Mueller Report?”

“Has anyone looked into allegations Trump profited from foreign money spent on his properties while he was in office? Which agency is responsible for accounting for this money?”

Do you know of any reporter who has asked this type of question to the DOJ or the White House? I don’t.

We just saw a very clear indication from the SCOTUS that no presidential privilege is sufficient to prevent investigation of crime. In the target-rich environment of the last administration, are we to believe the DOJ has nothing? Nada? That they’ve been diligently following the facts and the law, and it has turned up zilch?

I don’t believe that.

No, I just don’t think they are looking. That looks like a complete lack of gumption. Where is this gumption going to come from if not Joe Biden?

Apparently, it has to come from us.

The Mueller Report

Volume II of The Mueller Report provides factual evidence pertaining to possible criminal actions by Donald Trump and his associates. This evidence falls into ten categories.

1. Obstruction related to Russian support of Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

2. Obstruction of the FBI investigation of Michael Flynn.

3. Conduct related to confirmation of the FBI’s Russia investigation.

4. Events surrounding the termination of FBI Director James Comey.

5. Efforts to terminate the Special Counsel (Robert Mueller).

6. Efforts to limit the scope of the Special Council investigation.

7. Efforts to suppress information about the Trump Tower meeting of June 2016.

8. Information about meetings between Russia and senior Trump campaign officials.

9. Efforts to have Attorney General Jeff Sessions unrecuse himself (so that the Special Counsel’s investigation could be undermined or terminated).

10. Conduct with regard to Don McGahn, Michael Cohen, and other witnesses (i.e., potential witness tampering).

The conclusion of this part of the report is:

Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgement, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the Present’s conduct. The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent present difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude the the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.

Intro to this series: Resuscitating Democracy
Previous installment: The DOJ Is Becoming a Problem To Solve


38 votes Show Results

Now that the Senate failed to protect voting rights, isn’t it up to the Department of Justice to sue states that are attacking voting rights?

38 votes Vote Now!

Now that the Senate failed to protect voting rights, isn’t it up to the Department of Justice to sue states that are attacking voting rights?

Yes, the DOJ needs to be much more aggressive with legal action against states taking away voting rights.
37 votes
Maybe, I could be convinced, so I’m going to read these articles.
0 votes
No, they don’t have good enough cases to win.
1 vote
Other (see my comment).
0 votes

Liked it? Take a second to support Community on Patreon!

This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here