GOP Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana accused Attorney General Merrick Garland during a congressional hearing Wednesday of allowing his department to scare Americans like the KGB did in the former Soviet Union.
Spartz began her questioning of Garland, who was testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, by noting how moving she found his opening statement.
In it, the attorney general recounted how his grandparents came to the United States from Belarus early in the 20th century to escape religious persecution.
Garland shared with emotion how two of his grandmother’s siblings did not make it to America and died in the Holocaust.
However with his grandmother, “Under the protection of our laws, she was able to live without fear of persecution.”
“That protection is what distinguishes this country from so many others,” Garland said. “The protection of law — the rule of law — is the foundation of our system of government.”
Spartz told Garland that she immigrated from Ukraine, which, like Belarus, was also part of the former Soviet Union.
“When I came here as a young person I believed in the value as an American not to be afraid of my government,” Spartz said.
According to her congressional bio, the lawmaker moved to the U.S. in 2000, when she was in her early 20s, having been born in Ukraine in 1978.
“Are you aware that a lot of Americans are now afraid of being prosecuted by your department?” Spartz questioned Garland.
“Are you aware of that? … Are you aware or not?” she asked again when he did not initially respond.
Garland then answered: “I think that constant attacks on the Department and saying –“
Spartz interjected, “It’s not attacking. Let me give you an example,” pointing to the January 6, 2021 protesters that came to the U.S. Capitol to voice their concerns about the integrity of the 2020 election.
“There probably were some people that came on January 6 here that had bad intent,” the congresswoman acknowledged. “But a lot of good Americans from my district came here because they are sick and tired of this government not serving them.”
She said the situation at the Capitol became chaotic because the proper security was not in place.
In response to the incursion, the FBI launched the largest federal investigation in U.S. history to round up protesters who had been on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, The Washington Post reported in March.
Spartz pointed out that there were FBI notices posted throughout her district northeast of Indianapolis, and the agency conducted raids into people’s homes.
“People are truly afraid,” she said. “And this is a big problem when people are afraid of their own government.”
Spartz then raised the issue of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s report released in May that found the FBI and DOJ had no justifiable predicate to launch an investigation of then-Republican candidate Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 for alleged ties to Russia.
It was based primarily on the Steele dossier provided to the FBI by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
“It’s like KGB,” Spartz said of the whole “Russiagate” investigation into Trump.
Rather than having equal treatment under the law, which Garland said the U.S. stands for, investigations into Clinton and Hunter Biden have been slow-walked, running out the statute of limitations on various crimes, Spartz contended.
“We move very quick on Donald Trump, but very slow-walked on others,” she said, referring to the DOJ.
“I couldn’t believe it happened in the United States of America. This is my frustration,” Spartz told Garland.
The lawmaker argued the overall effect of it is to give Russia and China fodder for propaganda aimed at destabilizing the U.S.
“That is a danger to our republic,” she said. “It is a significant danger.”