There is a new scorecard in the unofficial “Prominent Prosecutions” category at the DOJ, and while the twice federally indicted former President Donald Trump remains the biggest name and most prominent target of U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland‘s Justice Department, the list of big political names in the DOJ crosshairs just got bigger.
Today Garland’s office added Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, to the list of big political names under indictment, making the score 2-1 — with President Biden‘s son Hunter Biden and Menendez on the Democrat side of the ledger and Trump on the GOP side. (Menendez was indicted on bribery charges.)
The scorecard is relevant on the optics: Garland testified before Congress this week and was grilled by Republicans for his so-called “politicization” of the Justice Department, which the MAGA wing of the GOP loudly accuses of enabling a “two-tiered justice system” that favors Democrats over Republicans. It’s a charge made especially electric considering the DOJ’s high profile cases against former President Donald Trump.
Under oath, Garland refuted all allegations that he was less than independent or that he was making prosecutorial decisions based on the political whims of President Biden.
“I am not the President’s lawyer,” Garland told his Congressional interrogators, underscoring the understanding that the Justice Department works for the American people, from whom Trump is accused of having tried to steal the 2020 election.
The scorecard — 2-1, Democrats indicted versus Republicans — considers only the most prominent political figures and household names that are DOJ targets — ignoring tens of thousands of other cases for which the DOJ largely doesn’t need to consider public optics.
More than 110,000 people work for the DOJ, including almost 10,000 lawyers, and the Department prosecutes an extraordinarily large number of cases each year. In 2019, for example, the DOJ charged more than 80,000 defendants in immigration cases alone.