In a letter addressed to the AG-designate Merrick Garland, the coalition asks for a DOJ task force to investigate “any potential federal criminal or civil violations” committed by the president, members of his administration, his campaign, business, or others.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 18, 2021) – A coalition of public interest organizations released a letter today to Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s designated choice for Attorney General. The letter urges the AG-designate to create an independent task force in the Department of Justice to investigate “any potential federal criminal or civil violations that may have been committed by former President Trump, members of his administration, or his campaign, business, or other associates.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold its confirmation hearings on the Garland nomination next Monday and Tuesday.

The coalition names several potential offenses, including President Trump’s incitement of an insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and his recorded phone call on January 2, 2021, pressuring Georgia’s Secretary of State to “find 11,780 votes” to overturn the outcome of the presidential vote in Georgia in the November 2020 election.

“Donald Trump and his compliant Attorneys General turned the Department of Justice into his personal law firm, enabling his lawless reign and protecting him from accountability,” says Ben Clements, Board Chair and Senior Legal Advisor for Free Speech For People.  “Restoring the rule of law begins with restoring the Department of Justice and neither of those can be accomplished without holding Donald Trump and his accomplices accountable.  To reestablish the bedrock principle that we are a nation of laws and that no one – not even the president – is above the law, it is essential that Merrick Garland assign a task force to investigate and, where the evidence requires, prosecute, those who violated their oaths of office and violated our nation’s laws.”

“As Attorney General, Judge Merrick Garland must apply the law to all Americans fairly — and that includes Donald Trump and all those who have enabled his lawlessness,” says Rahna Epting, MoveON Civic Action Executive Director. “Our country cannot have two tracks of justice: one for the rich and powerful, and one for everyone else. If there are no consequences for breaking the law, Trump and those like him will continue to do it with impunity. No one is above the law — and that includes former Presidents.”

The signers of the letter, led by Free Speech For People, include Action Group Network, Avaaz, Blue Wave Postcard Movement, Brave New Films, Demand Progress, Equal Justice Society, For All, Government Accountability Project, MoveOn Civic Action, Progressive Leadership Initiative, Progressives for Democracy in America, Revolving Door Project, and True North Research.

Other offenses named in the letter involve the 2016 election and the Mueller investigation that were not prosecuted during the Trump presidency because of Department of Justice policy; misuse of the office of the presidency for personal profit, including bribery and extortion; tax fraud, bank fraud, and insurance fraud committed by the Trump Organization; the practice of family separation and detention of children along the U.S.-Mexico border; and attempts to sabotage the 2020 presidential election.

“For at least the past five years, Donald Trump, and his aides and associates, have engaged in a flurry of unethical, unconstitutional, and often criminal activity, culminating on January 6, 2021, with the seditious insurrection on the United States Capitol incited and encouraged by former President Trump and his allies,” the letter says. “If we are to begin the process of restoring the integrity of the Department of Justice and the rule of law to our nation, it is essential that the Department thoroughly investigate these actions and, where warranted and appropriate, hold accountable those who have violated the nation’s laws.”

“Setting aside the merits of the Department policy prohibiting prosecution of sitting presidents, neither a president nor his officials are above the law, and the policy has no application beyond a president’s term,” the letter continues. “To the contrary, our constitutional system, under which no one, especially the president, is above the law, permits and obligates the Department of Justice to enforce the law, where appropriate, against former presidents.”

Read the full letter here.