The threat of Trump returning to office is severe, thanks in part to Merrick Garland

The Sarah Kendzior Newsletter

November 15, 2023

I do not want to talk about Merrick Garland again. It feels like doing homework for a class my country already failed.

But it is necessary to do so. There is a shroud over the USA. It is woven of decades of deceit and impunity, but it is not interminable. There are threads that, when pulled, cause the shroud to unravel and Americans to see the light.

One of those threads is Merrick Garland’s rise to power, and the role of his mentor and lifelong best friend, Jamie Gorelick, in that rise.

I have told this story in pieces over the years. I am now putting the information in one article to make it easier to find. The story touches on so many atrocities that it is impossible for me to cover them all, and I encourage folks to pick up where I left off. The point of describing a crisis is to give people tools to fix it. This shadow network affects everyone, regardless of where you live or for whom you voted.

It is common to hear Garland described as an institutionalist. This is true. He protects a broken and corrupt institution, the Department of Justice. He protects it instead of protecting the United States or its people. He protects it above democracy or freedom or a future. He protects it over justice itself.

The DOJ Industrial Propaganda Complex that emerges when any critique of Garland is made insists that justice is imminent. They bleat that Garland is merely “dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s”.

Which he is, in the word COMPLICIT.

Sarah Kendzior

Merrick Garland is a cog in the Biden Placeholder Presidency. He serves to streamline an aspiring autocracy into an entrenched one. You can read about that process here.

The Biden Placeholder Presidency was designed to exist between two terms of Trump, Mafia Grover Cleveland style. The threat of Trump returning to office to complete his autocratic agenda is severe. But that he is able to do it – that the US is the only country in history to allow a coup to go unpunished and a seditionist to run for president again – is due to Garland, the DOJ, and their accomplices in Congress.

Garland is not unique in his role as a mafia state enabler. He follows a long line of DOJ cover-up operatives marketed as saviors of American democracy: James Comey, Robert Mueller, Bill Barr, Cy Vance, and so on. Over and over, Americans are told that these prosecutors are going to “get Trump” and dismantle his criminal network. Over and over, they serve their real role, which is to run out the clock and allow criminal elites to escape accountability.

Theirs is a time-tested strategy. It is a necessary strategy, since members of the DOJ have worked, or continue to work, for the very transnational criminal networks they claim to fight. Among them are William Sessions and Louis Freeh, FBI heads who went on to serve Semyon Mogilevich and his transnational mafia operation. I explain this complex network in my books Hiding in Plain Sight and They Knew.

The FBI and DOJ need to protect Trump, because in doing so, they protect themselves.

Trump knows what crimes the US government carried out because he and officials in his orbit abetted them or witnessed them. These servants of the mafia state would not intervene even when public safety was at grave risk. The longer they waited, the more power Trump accumulated.

As a career criminal with deep ties in business, media, and organized crime as well as access to classified information, Trump now has more leverage over the American government than they do over him.

There are a lot of ways to blackmail a government. Not all of it has to do with individuals and their personal secrets. You could expose horrific prior actions a government did against its own people, for example.

Unspeakable things.

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Trump is a career mafioso trained in the arts of blackmail and bribery by his mentor, Roy Cohn. He and his backers continually threaten physical violence against anyone in their way. But it is not necessary to deploy threats when the ostensible target – the DOJ — is their willing accomplice.

Many fail to understand Garland’s role due to an elaborate propaganda network (the mechanics of which I will break down) and a reluctance to recognize complicity among officials who are often portrayed as feuding. It is easier to attribute disaster to one political party instead of examining networks and recurring figures responsible for a multitude of tragedies over the past twenty-five years.

Jamie Gorelick is one of these figures, a Forrest Gump of 21st century corruption. Like Garland, she is a Democrat who serves GOP objectives, the most notable of which for Garland was working as Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s lawyer and getting them the White House clearances that they should have been denied due to conflicts of interest.

As a result of Gorelick’s actions, Kushner gained classified intelligence that he likely shared with or sold to foreign states, including Saudi Arabia, from which he pocketed two billion dollars, and Israel, to which he has been tied since birth due to his family’s long friendship with the Netanyahu family, to the point that Benjamin Netanyahu slept in Jared’s bed when visiting the United States.

Garland has refused to investigate Kushner. A likely reason is that, were he to investigate Kushner – who remains a profound national security threat – he would also be investigating his best friend.

It is one big club, and it is destroying our country.

Crises of institutional integrity are beyond partisanship. They cannot be fixed by elections. They can only begin to be remedied when the rot is revealed. The road to accountability begins with evidence, context, and history.

Reckoning with this horror is difficult, but an informed public is a powerful public. Never forget that state officials are paid to serve you. You deserve more than a plate of platitudes meant to weaken your capacity for critical thought.

You deserve the truth, as unpleasant as it may be.

Monument Valley on the Navajo Nation, photographed March 2023

Merrick Garland gained national prominence when he was blocked from the Supreme Court by Republicans in 2016. The refusal of the GOP to hold hearings gave the Americans the false impression that Garland is a staunch Democrat and defender of liberty.

In reality, the GOP refusal had little to do with Garland, but with their desire to pack the court with right-wing extremists once Trump ascended. Garland is not a right-wing extremist. He is a cog who serves corrupt interests under the guise of being “moderate” and “cautious” – stalling investigations and blocking evidence from public view. That is what he did during his brief tenure at the Clinton DOJ from 1994-1997. That is what he does at the Biden DOJ now.

GOP extremists have long praised Garland. In 2017, after Trump fired James Comey, Mitch McConnell suggested that Garland become the FBI director.

“I have spoken with the president about it. I recommended Merrick Garland,” McConnell said in May 2017. He recited the propaganda line that Garland “was the prosecutor in the Oklahoma City bombing case.” (Garland was not. The lead prosecutor in the Oklahoma City bombing case was Joseph Hartzler, and how that lie gets circulated will be explained later.) McConnell added that Garland “would make it clear that President Trump will continue the tradition at the FBI of having an apolitical professional.”

McConnell is not the only Republican linked to Russian oligarchs to praise Garland. In 2010, when Garland was being considered for the Supreme Court, Republican operative Joseph DiGenova commended Garland as “a profoundly serious guy” who would be a great addition to the court.

DiGenova is a seasoned GOP criminal abettor and Trump operative who has — among other things — attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election, worked with Rudy Giuliani on the 2019 Ukraine shakedown plot, and represented oligarchs immersed in transnational organized crime, including Dmytro Firtash. Firtash is a longtime partner of Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort who has been under criminal indictment for money laundering and is said to be tied closely to Mogilevich. In 2019, DiGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing hired the now-indicted Lev Parnas for the Ukraine operation that Giuliani resumed after Manafort was sent to prison.

In April 2021, the FBI executed a search warrant on Toensing’s house as a result of all that apparent criminal activity. And then what happened to Toensing and DiGenova, under Garland’s DOJ?

Nothing, of course. Much like none of the other elite criminals in Trump’s orbit have faced meaningful consequences, or in many cases, even rudimentary investigation.

In October 2021, Donald Trump praised Garland as “a good man” and said he was glad Garland was Attorney General. At that point, the DOJ had not even opened an inquiry into the Capitol attack, a dereliction of duty that was obvious to anyone with eyes and ears, but which Garland’s backers staunchly denied until time had run out, and it was too late.

In other words, once Garland and Trump had achieved their goals.

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To understand Garland’s role as a protector of the criminal elite, we need to understand how he got into government in the first place. He was installed by Jamie Gorelick, a friend from their law school days at Harvard, where they studied under Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein defender Alan Dershowitz.

Gorelick described being mentored by Dershowitz, who has been accused of raping children procured by his client Epstein, as “a joy and a thrill” and cites him as a major influence. (Dershowitz denies being a child rapist and said he just liked being massaged in his underwear in Epstein’s home.)

Dershowitz is responsible for Gorelick’s rise in politics. She worked as his research assistant, and he set her up with her first job. “You belong in Washington,” he told her. He did not say why. Gorelick worked for powerbroker Edward Bennett Williams, who, like Trump’s mentor Roy Cohn, rose to prominence as a lawyer for Joseph McCarthy and for organized crime.

Dershowitz may also be responsible for Gorelick representing Jared Kushner, as he attested during a CNN interview in 2017.

In 1994, after working for a year at the Department of Defense, Gorelick was appointed United States Deputy Attorney General. In 2006, she said she saw the Deputy Attorney General position as an opportunity to staff the Clinton administration with her friends from Harvard, regardless of their qualifications:

“For twenty years, I had been making a list in my head of what my own law firm would look like. And now I had the opportunity to have that team. Bill Bryson was, by then, at the Department of Justice, as was Merrick Garland. We got Bill to be the Acting Associate. Merrick was in the Criminal Division. I asked him to be my Principal Associate Deputy. Seth Waxman, who thankfully agreed to come in even though the only slot I had open was as an associate deputy overseeing INS, joined us.”

This era in the Clinton administration marks the period when Gorelick earned the nickname “mistress of disaster” — initially given to her by Republicans. Those Republicans have gone quiet as her actions now aid their dark objectives.

But the moniker remains apt: Gorelick’s career serves as a compendium of 21st American traumas and tragedies, all of which she helped facilitate and each of which is deserving of its own long investigation.

For the sake of brevity, I will give a chronology of her actions between 1994 and now. As you read, keep in mind this person is Merrick Garland’s foremost influence, and she advises him to this day:

January 1995: Gorelick horrifies terrorism experts by ordering that Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, be extradited from the US to Jordan after he was captured in December 1994. “People at the CIA were rip-shit at the time,” CIA Counter Terrorism Center analyst Jacob L. Boesen told journalist Peter Lance. Terrorism experts noted that the decision was shocking in 1995 due to Khalifa’s connection to the 1993 World Trade Center attack, but even more in retrospect given the wealth of information Khalifa could have provided about the 9/11 attacks. Khalifa returned to Jordan in May 1995.

April 1995: Gorelick helps kill the federal investigation into Inslaw/PROMIS software, a complicated case involving the theft of surveillance software by the DOJ and alleged espionage efforts tied to foreign powers, in particular, Israel. The main journalist investigating Inslaw/PROMIS, Danny Casolaro, was murdered in August 1991. Gorelick had previously worked as counsel to Clark Clifford and Robert Altman, both lawyers for BCCI, the bank at which PROMIS was allegedly used by the CIA. In 2013, Gorelick cowrote an op-ed with a fellow DOJ employee who helped kill the investigations into PROMIS and BCCI, Bill Barr, arguing that journalists need to be surveilled more.

April 1995: Gorelick writes a memo that created a wall between the FBI and the CIA and therefore helped make the 9/11 attacks successful. “We believe that it is prudent to establish a set of instructions that will more clearly separate the counterintelligence investigation from the more limited, but continued, criminal investigations,” she wrote. “These procedures, which go beyond what is legally required, will prevent any risk of creating an unwarranted appearance that FISA is being used to avoid procedural safeguards which would apply in a criminal investigation.”

The Gorelick “wall” made it difficult for law enforcement and intelligence to share information about terrorists, in particular, Al Qaeda. Gorelick refused to testify before the 9/11 commission about her memo, which Republicans claimed made the attacks possible. The GOP claim may or may not have validity: we do not know, because Gorelick would not discuss it. She circumvented the requirement by becoming a core member of the 9/11 commission and refusing to resign despite the obvious conflict of interest. She limited the scope of the investigation to 1998 and onward, thereby forcing the hearings to ignore her tenure at the DOJ.

Gorelick is one of two people in America allowed to see all of the 9/11 evidence, along with her Harvard law school alumnus, Bush torture advocate Michael Chertoff, who had also been trained under Dershowitz.

On August 7, 2001, one month before the 9/11 attacks, Gorelick was revealed as one of eight people selected to monitor the CIA. The commission on which she served was criticized for its lack of innovation and inattention to threats. Her role on the commission has never been explained.

*          *          *

After leaving the DOJ in 1997, Gorelick moved in and out of government and private practice, often inhabiting both at once.

Here it is important to note that every person, even a very horrible person, is entitled to a rigorous criminal defense. But there are certain lawyers who make a career out of finding the worst people in the world to represent. Roy Cohn was one. Alan Dershowitz is another. Jamie Gorelick is a third.

A timeline of Gorelick’s private sector activity:

1997-2003: Gorelick is appointed Vice Chairman of Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and served there until 2003. During that period, Fannie Mae was engulfed in a $10 billion accounting scandal. This scandal allowed Gorelick to pocket over $25 million dollars.

2010: Gorelick decides to represent British Petroleum after a series of oil spill disasters. Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, criticized the move due to Gorelick’s ties to the Democratic party and the Obama administration: “Speaking generally, the reliance on high-powered insiders results in corporations escaping penalties that are not as severe as they would otherwise face.” He was right to worry: Gorelick helped get BP off the hook for ecocide and dodged demands that the company pay residents on the Gulf of Mexico, an agreement that shocked onlookers.

2010: Gorelick is considered for FBI director along with Merrick Garland. Gorelick is rejected due to her large number of scandals.

2016: Gorelick defends the city of Chicago in the murder of Laquan McDonald and Baltimore in the killing of Freddie Gray.

2016: Gorelick defends for-profit swindler school University of Phoenix and ensures that it is not penalized by the Pentagon.

2017: Gorelick becomes the “ethics lawyer” of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. She structures Kushner’s financial arrangements, promising divestments that did not happen. She also helps Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, recipient of the 2013 “Order of Friendship” medal from Putin, obtain a security clearance to become Secretary of State.

2020-present: Gorelick represents Amazon and other big tech giants as they are sued for various abuses of power and assists them with their union-busting.

2021: Gorelick’s role as an enabler of the opioid abuse industry in the early 2010s is revealed in a documentary. Gorelick used her inside contacts to protect big pharma opioid peddlers. “It appears she knew when we were or were not going to do an enforcement operation,” DEA official Joseph Rannazzisi told the Washington Post. “They’re not supposed to know that.” He said standard procedure is never to inform the target of an enforcement action when investigators might move in and that Gorelick had violated that procedure.

There is much more. I am only including highlights because if I were to list every crime she abetted, I would have an epic.

It is time to move onto another job for which she remains largely uncredited: Merrick Garland’s chief propagandist.

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If you have criticized Merrick Garland at any point in the last three years, you probably had something like this appear in your social media mentions:

The DOJ appears to have a troll bot farm that recites identical mantras praising the attorney general. If any other country had an online propaganda operation for a powerful prosecutor, used to harass journalists and other critics, we would rightly view that country as a mafia state.

The DOJ also has an army of podcast propagandists and legal pundits who falsely claim that justice is imminent. They have spent years assuring the public of this imminent justice, like televangelists who steal your money while moving the end times date down the line.

The main myth of the Garland propagandists is that Garland played a seminal role in solving and prosecuting the Oklahoma City bombings. This myth is repeated not only online, but in mainstream articles. They describe the capture of McVeigh as a “long, drawn-out, leak-free process” in order to justify the current DOJ’s lack of action toward elite seditionists and other prominent criminals.

By now, this line is moot, as the DOJ has admitted they did not bother to investigate the attempted coup until over a year after it happened, and Garland has kicked the can on other major Trump administration crimes to special counsel Jack Smith.

But the Oklahoma City mythology endures. Garland is described by propagandists as both catching McVeigh and prosecuting him. He did neither. Garland also did not capture the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, who was turned in by his brother, David Kaczynski. (The propagandists throw around this myth as well.)

Before we examine Garland’s stolen valor, let us clarify what happened in April 1995. A timeline of the Oklahoma City attack and the arrest of McVeigh:

April 19, 1995: A 4,800-pound truck bomb explodes in front of the Alfred Murrah Federal Building. Ninety minutes later, an Oklahoma State Trooper arrests Timothy McVeigh for driving without a license plate and carrying a concealed weapon.

April 20: Merrick Garland arrives in Oklahoma City as part of the FBI investigation. His photo is printed in a lot of newspapers, which is what likely led to the later propaganda campaign being effective. Garland flies back to DC.

April 21: Federal authorities arrest McVeigh on probable cause. McVeigh’s partner Terry Nichols surrenders.

The capture took two days.

McVeigh, proud of his terrorism, confessed. The DOJ prosecution was turned over to Joseph Hartzler in May 1995.

Garland’s only significant contribution before resigning from the DOJ was to seal crucial documents related to the Oklahoma City bombing from public view. He framed the case as a “lone gunman” scenario and ignored McVeigh’s ties to white supremacist militias in the US as well as potential ties to terrorists abroad.

This is chillingly reminiscent of how his DOJ has refused to examine the networks involved in Trump’s attempted coup and other crimes. It is not clear why the McVeigh networks were not examined but given the role of the CIA in the investigation, revealed over a decade later, it is likely there was foreign involvement or other complications that the government wanted to hide.

So how was the myth of Merrick Garland, Oklahoma City Hero, formed? Two words: Jamie Gorelick.

If there is a major media article proclaiming that Garland played a seminal role in this case whose source is not Gorelick, I’ve yet to see it. The ur-article was the 2010 New York Times piece which contained DiGenova’s praise, though at least that article states that Garland’s involvement in the case was limited. From that point, whenever Garland was considered for a prominent position, the myth of him as an OKC crusader was revived, with quotes by Gorelick growing more effusive over time.

The myth became an object lesson in paywalls. “How Did the Oklahoma City Bombing Shape Merrick Garland?” asked The Atlantic, featuring a photo of Garland looking pensive during his day in Oklahoma.

The answer is: not much. If you can access the article (which due to the paywall, I assume you cannot), you get quotes like this:

“Garland showed up for a bail hearing…and that’s the only time I can remember him doing anything in the case,” Tigar said. “He had been sent out from Washington DC, and that was it. How he got the reputation as having a great deal to do with it – you couldn’t prove it to me.”

That quote is from defense lawyer Michael E. Tigar, who was there for the entire trial.

The elevation of Garland could arguably be described as disinformation about anti-government terrorism. Which is why it is so alarming that after serving as the propaganda source for this myth, Gorelick was appointed both to 1) oversee the toothless 1/6 commission and 2) run a now disbanded “disinformation governance board” with her old 9/11 buddy, torture enthusiast Michael Chertoff.

The person who gave Gorelick these jobs is Joseph Biden. Under Biden, Gorelick serves in the Department of Homeland Security, despite her record of abetting criminality and her conflicts of interest in the private sector. In 2022, Gorelick was promoted by Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the DHS advisory council while the department fell under criticism for abuse of migrants, a travesty it commits to this day.

There is a Jamie Gorelick Cover-Up Template. It was effectively deployed during the 9/11 hearings and reused for the 1/6 hearings. It operates as follows:

1) Have the people who committed the crime, failed to prevent the crime, or enabled the crime be the same people who investigate the crime
2) Limit the scope and timeframe of the investigation
3) Decontextualize everything, especially the prior actions of recurring parties
4) Drag the entire process out and run out the clock until the public loses interest

In his 2010 book Triple Cross, journalist Peter Lance describes the lead-up to 9/11 and the faulty investigation that followed, including Gorelick’s role. If you read it, you will notice disturbing parallels to both the 1/6 and Trump-Russia investigations.

Robert Mueller appears to make false statements and ignore major evidence. The committee severely limits the time frame of the inquiry, disregards institutional failures that allowed the attacks to succeed, and seems to follow a script. Lance says this scripted approach was agreed upon by Democrats and Republicans in order to keep the public from grasping the full scope of internal corruption.

Low-level operatives are rounded up, while key perpetrators and powerful enablers – like Saudi Arabia – are left alone. There are ties to organized crime, particularly mafiosos from the former Soviet Union, that no one will discuss. The proceedings move at a glacial pace. Despite there being a wealth of material in the public domain, much of it is ignored or used selectively, resulting in a mass gaslighting that makes citizens give up on finding the truth. Officials who play along with this façade of inquiry gain money and power. There is a chapter in Triple Cross called “Promotions for Those Who Didn’t See It Coming”.

Given that Gorelick led the committee that produced these results, why would she be hired to oversee the 1/6 commission?

It’s because they wanted the same results.

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There is much more I could say about Garland and Gorelick. Their failures and their betrayals. The statutes of limitations on Trump-related cases that Garland has allowed to run out. The constant burial of the Epstein case. The international repercussions of not prosecuting Kushner. The suffering our country endures when people like Garland and Gorelick are installed in positions in power – for they are not unique, but part of a broader pattern of mendacity meeting mediocrity.

The main thing to understand, now that the clock has run out, is that Garland and the DOJ do not want to hold Trump accountable. The preservation of a corrupt institution and its secrets is their agenda, not the survival of our country or the welfare of its people.

These are the actions of people who do not care if the United States exists.

Why would the DOJ be reluctant to defend its own country? To understand this, you need to grasp that Trump and his criminal backers have been in a mutually beneficial relationship with the FBI for forty years. They are not enemies. They are collaborators.

And so, Trump’s calls to “reform” or abolish the FBI and DOJ are as hollow as Garland’s proclamations that he is serving justice. What Trump and his backers want is to transform the FBI into a more overt gestapo serving their interests, instead of the shadowy COINTELPRO force it has pretended not to be for decades. They want masks off and knives out.

But they will not be coming for Merrick Garland and Jamie Gorelick. They – all of them – are coming for America, and truth is the first line of defense.

If the topics of this article interest you, please check out my books Hiding in Plain Sight and They Knew, as they give more background on the alliances described above.

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