Attorney General Garland tests before House Judiciary Committee

12:49 p.m. ET, June 4, 2024

Lawmaker urges Garland to challenge SCOTUS case over January 6 lawsuits

Representative of members of the House Judiciary Committee. Thomas Massie, right, listens as U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies before the committee in Washington, DC, Tuesday.

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A Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee pressed Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday about a pending Supreme Court case challenging the Justice Department’s use of a federal obstruction law to prosecute criminals. Hundreds of rioters at the US Capitol.

“Is your office preparing to drop charges against more than 340 people from January 6 accused of (federal corruption law) and release dozens from prison on this charge if the Supreme Court cancel this month the way your department used this law against them? GOP Rep. Thomas Massie asked Garland.

“We respect the Supreme Court. Whatever the court decides, we will act appropriately,” Garland responded.

“So you’ll have to drop the charges if the Supreme Court says you did this illegally? » Massie went on to reference the DOJ’s use of the law in these criminal cases.

“I’m not going to answer any guesses. We’ll wait and see what the Supreme Court says,” Garland responded.

How the Supreme Court defines how the obstruction statute can be used in the Capitol attack could impact hundreds of criminal cases, even the current case against the former President Donald Trump, who is also charged under the law with obstruction of an official proceeding.

But remember: Even if the Supreme Court reduced the Justice Department’s ability to use the obstruction of justice charge against the January 6 rioters, it would be unlikely to result in the release of those who were imprisoned for their actions during the riot. The vast majority of detained rioters – whether before trial or after conviction – are also accused of violent crimes, including violence against police who were protecting the Capitol.

The DOJ has rarely charged the January 6 rioters with obstruction of justice as their sole charge. Most face multiple criminal charges.

CNN’s Katelyn Polantz contributed reporting to this post.

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