Reserved, studious and precise, Merrick Garland appears to be an attorney general selected by central casting. Unfortunately, the part he is playing belongs to another era, one where the government was widely trusted.
After orchestrating one of the biggest events in the history of the Department of Justice, Garland proved himself too small for the moment. Whether he volunteered or was pushed into authorizing the unprecedented FBI raid on the home of former President Donald Trump, he was woefully unprepared for the entirely predictable fallout.
It should not have been a surprise to him that about half the country believes the raid was motivated by politics. Or that Trump’s support, which had been slipping, instantly started rising among Republicans and some independents.
Even if Garland hadn’t considered politics, he might have thought of the declining credibility of his organization, especially after its shameful spying on Trump in the 2016 election.
Gallup has tracked Americans’ confidence in 14 institutions for decades, and the criminal-justice system ranks close to the bottom of the barrel.