When the Justice Department Jumped the Shark

In October 2021 there was the memo that Attorney General Merrick Garland sent out to all offices about the need to crack down on those violent parents at school-board meetings. He could offer no examples or prior investigations before Congress when asked what prompted the memo.  Later we learned that it was at the urging of the National School Board Association and its contacts at the White House that brought AG Garland to his senses.  So, he offered a stern memo for all hands on deck to crack down on those rascally scalawag parents. It took our Caspar-Milquetoast-meets-Barnet-Fife AG only five days after that memo arrived in the White House to get out his memo. The Mr. Limpet of lawyering said it was time to call a “domestic terrorist” a “domestic terrorist.”  Let the tackling of the soccer moms and wresting of their minivans headed for school-board meetings begin.

The terrorists showed him.  They sued him (case dismissed) and then began ousting school board members right and left, although mostly left, from Miami to San Francisco.  Congress is still investigating, and the mild-mannered Merrick is still resisting answers and investigators.  He has referred questions to Karine Jean-Pierre at the White House.  Ms. Jean-Pierre has responded that she is referring all questions to the Justice Department except those about Southwest Airlines, the Supply Chain, FAA ground-stops, and stalled infrastructure to Secretary of Transportation, Mayor “Pete” Buttigieg.  Mr. Buttigieg is currently on permanent leave owing to being a parent of twins.  He does report for work for press appearances to explain his latest harshly worded letter to someone else responsible for all road, shipping, strike, and transportation debacles under his watch.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court tossed the abortion issue back to the states, Mr. Garland’s Justice Department has been busy suing those states for doing what the highest court in the land said they can and should be doing.

When desperate Doug Duce, then-governor of Arizona. erected a wall on the Arizona-Mexico border made up of shipping containers, the Justice Department filed suit for an order requiring their removal.  The containers were on federal land and were creating an environmental hazard.

You can find Merrick Garland and his merry band of Justice Department lawyers with their noses in just about anything that does or does not concern them.  After all, its name is self-descriptive.  All this has been done in the name of Justice, literally and figuratively.

However, with President Biden’s document debacle, the ongoing drama of the Justice Department is running short on strategies for remaining opaque even as it litigates, intimidates, and obfuscates.

The bottom line on the document debacle is as follows:

  1. November 2, 2022 Mr. Biden’s lawyers report finding classified materials at the Biden Center for Some Kind of Mubo Jumbo Globalism for the Study of Pumping Funds to Some Biden from Somewhere Else.  No word on how Biden lawyers happened to be snooping around the Center or why they were engaged as clerical two-men-and-a-truck flunkies. The University of Pennsylvania, the home of the Biden Center issued a statement, “Who knew?” and adamantly denied that any funds from China went to the Center (more on that issue coming).
  2. November 4, 2022 The classified materials from the Pumping Center somehow landed at the National Archives.  The National Archives Inspector General then contacted the Justice Department about the unauthorized possession, storage, transport, reading, or use of classified documents.
  3. November 8, 2022 Federal elections are held.  Nary a word was heard on the Biden possession of classified documents. No discouraging word was uttered on the topics covered in those documents:  Ukraine and Iran.
  4. November 10, 2022  The FBI commences an “assessment” to determine whether the documents had been mishandled in violation of federal law.  No word yet on why the FBI in no longer the Federal Bureau of Investigation and has become the FBA, Federal Bureau of Assessment.  Also, no word on why the FBI opted for no search warrants, raids, or searches of Dr. Jill’s underwear draws for nuclear secrets.
  5. November 10, 2022  The FBA notifies Biden attorneys that it had begun its scary assessment  process but that it would keep in regular contact.  No word yet on why Biden attorneys were not left standing outside the National Archives, FBA headquarters, Biden homes in Delaware, or the Biden Corvette garage. “Let’s keep in touch,” is the new motto for the new FBA.
  6. November 14, 2022 U.S. Attorney John Lausch is asked by Milquetoast Limpet to look into maybe whether or possibly a special counsel should be appointed by said Limpet. Mr. Lausch was at that time a U.S. Attorney in Illinois but is  headed out the door and  into private practice in February.
  7. November 18, 2022 Caspar Fife appoints a special counsel to “investigate”  Mr. Trump’s possession of “sensitive documents” as well as his role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Jack Smith, said special counsel, is currently wrapping up a stint at the Hague prosecuting war criminals.  He pledged to handle the investigations in “the best traditions of the Justice Department.”  Uh-oh, that means trouble for Trump and a temporary reprieve for war criminals everywhere. He also added that he conducts “investigations” and not “assessments.”
  8. December 20, 2022  Those happy-go-lucky Biden sortin’ and movin’ lawyers find more documents at the Biden home in Wilmington, Delaware.  This time the FBA swings into action and heads out to secure the documents. That Inspector General at the National Archives cannot be trusted to handle issues such as this.
  9. December 21, 2022 The FBA takes possession of the classified  documents. The Wilmington home is not searched by the FBA. The FBA does not spread the documents on the carpet or issue any photos of the documents obtained.
  10. January 5, 2023 John Lausch reports to Mr. Toast, “You gotta appoint a special counsel here, Caspar.” Mr. Lausch also resurrects that nasty term, “investigate.”
  11. January 8, 2023 Representative James Comer announces on the Mark Levin program that he will be looking into the activities of the National Archives and possible politicization of that agency.
  12. January 9, 2023 CBS breaks the news about the Biden Center documents.  Karine Jean-Pierre responds, “Who knew?” and refers all questions to Mayor Pete or the Justice Deaprtment.
  13. January 10, 2023 Ironically, in a 60 Minutes prerecorded interview, President Joseph Robinette Biden addresses Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents, noting, “How that could possibly happen, how one anyone [sic] could be that irresponsible?”
  14. January 10, 2023 President Joseph Robinette Byden issues a statement on the documents of, “Who knew?”  He pledged cooperation and refers all questions to Karine Jean-Pierre.
  15. January 11, 2023  Those movin’ and sortin’ Biden lawyers report finding more classified documents  at the Wilmington Biden home in the Biden garage. The lawyers stop their search and notify the FBA.  The FBA searches the Wilmington home as well as the Biden Rehobeth Beach home.  No additional documents were located.  No photos were issued by the FBA of the garage document, the Biden Corvette in that garage, or the bike lock on the Biden garage door.  Such a lock apparently qualified the Biden garage as a SCIF (sensitive compartmented information facility).
  16. January 12, 2023  Apparently the promise that no further documents were found by the FBA at the Wilmington Biden home were not quite accurate. Mr. Limpet held a press conference and disclosed that more documents had been found in the home.
  17. January 12, 2023 Those Biden lawyers (Keystone Kop-esque) head to the Wilmington to search the house again and found more documents in that SCIF garage (five more).  No word from the FBA on how they missed the documents in their assessment the day before.
  18. January 12, 2023  Caspar Fife announces the appointment of a special counsel to investigate “the handling of classified documents.” No word on whether the FBA will return to investigative work or continue to rely on special counsel and simply stick to its knitting of “assessments.” Mr. Garland referred all questions to Karine Jean-Pierre and she referred reporters back to him.
  19. January 17, 2023 The Wall Street Journal reports that FBA said that it considered monitoring Biden lawyer searches for additional documents but concluded it would not do so to avoid complicating “later stages of the investigation.” After all, when one is simply assessing, one cannot get involved in watching third-parties scoop up evidence. The FBA referred all questions to the Justice Department, to which one reported responded, “Aren’t you part of the Justice Department?”
  20. January 21, 2023 — The White House Chief of Staff is leaving after the State of the Union address. He has referred all questions to Mayor Pete or Karine Jean-Pierre.
  21. January 22, 2023 The FBA finds more documents in the Biden Wilmington home following a 13-hour search. No word on Dr. Jill’s drawers. Ms. Jean-Pierre reiterates that the White House continues to cooperate and will now begin a policy of distributing schedules for upcoming further document searches..

Regardless of how one feels politically, a simple timeline and a review of the Justice Department’s actions, inactions, and responses has brought it to that same point flailing sit-coms face and then attempt to regain former glory.  They resort to the unbelievable.

UPDATED January 23 2023.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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4 Responses to When the Justice Department Jumped the Shark

  1. John Corrigan says:

    Have you ever considered teaching a course in Journalism? Today’s MSM, whose works and words suggest that they are mainly unemployable (in the real world), Gender/Womens, and Ethnic studies graduates would benefit from your meticulous investigative skills and descriptive vocabulary usage.

    Wait a minute! What was I thinking. The WOKE take those majors so they can continue parroting DNC talking points, requiring no actual effort outside of cutting and pasting talking points into their scripts or “News” stories.

    This column is one of your best. I have followed you for decades, beginning with free courses on local public TV where you taught Accounting basics, and continuing with your columns and speeches in Ethics, a lost discipline in our lives.

  2. mmjdiary says:

    Thank you for the kind note! They surely can repeat mantras, but the reasoning skills??? Hmmmm! I may just write a book on journalism!

  3. Dennis Lisonbee says:

    Your thoughtful journalism reads like a script outline for The Keystone Cops. Will the one trick pony team of Bernstein and Woodward pull out a deus ex machine to save the Republic or will the comedy be re-written into a tragedy where the Constitution is burned and America is doomed to the underworld of failed Banana Republics?

  4. mmjdiary says:

    The behavior and reactions of everyone from commentators to public officials is comedic and tragic at the same time. Justice was playing with fire when it escalated a document dispute into a crime. No documents were hidden — the dispute was over what and when for turnover purposes.

    We are about a 4th tier Banana Republic at this point. Even Banana Republics are saying, “Wow, we never did anything like this!”

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