President Joe Biden's head of the Justice Department, Attorney General Merrick Garland, testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and may have lied under oath while attempting to refuse to answer a question about the Jan. 6 Capitol riot of 2021.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) warned Garland that he may have perjured himself when the AG claimed to have no knowledge about whether any federal assets were among the crowd of protesters and "agitating" them to commit crimes, according to the Daily Caller.
The Kentucky congressman also suggested that Garland could or should be held in contempt of Congress for repeatedly refusing to answer legitimate questions within the oversight role played by the co-equal legislative branch.
Rep. Massie first played a brief compilation video the showed the directors of the ATF and FBI, as well as AG Garland himself, refusing to answer questions in prior hearings about the Jan. 6 Capitol riot under the guise of there being an "ongoing investigation."
The congressman then referenced to Garland how former Trump Trade advisor Peter Navarro was "indicted for contempt of Congress -- aren’t you in fact in contempt of Congress when you give us this answer? This is an answer that’s appropriate at a press conference. It’s not an answer that’s appropriate when we are asking questions."
"We are the committee that is responsible for your creation, for your existence of your department," he continued. "You cannot continue to give us these answers. Aren’t you in fact in contempt of Congress when you refuse to answer?"
In reply, Garland rambled on about "separation of powers" and respect for "due process" as reasons why he couldn't comment on pending investigations, but Massie wasn't buying it and asserted that Garland's refusal to answer questions was obstructive of Congress' own constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the executive branch.
Rep. Massie noted that the video clip of AG Garland he showed was from two years earlier and was a non-response to a question about the presence of "agitating" federal agents and assets on the ground before and during the Capitol riot, and asked, "Can you answer that now?"
Garland professed to not know the answer to that question, so Massie clarified and said, "You don’t know how many there were, or there were none?" Garland replied, "I don’t know the answer to either of those questions. If there were any, I don’t know how many, or whether there are any."
Seemingly taken aback by that response, the congressman said, "I think you may have just perjured yourself, that you don’t know that there were any. You wanna say that again? That you don’t know if there were any?"
Garland again claimed to "have no personal knowledge of this matter," but Massie again cut him off and declared "You've had two years to find out" and launched into an indignant rant about how Ray Epps, a Jan. 6 agitator caught on multiple videos who some suspect was a federal plant in the crowd, was only just recently indicted on a minor misdemeanor while the DOJ was "sending grandmas to prison. You’re putting people away for 20 years for merely filming. Some people weren’t even there."
Congress has a constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the agencies it creates. When the heads of ATF, FBI, and DOJ all refuse to answer our questions, aren’t they guilty of contempt? pic.twitter.com/ocm064ENom
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) September 21, 2023
The New York Post reported that with regard to Rep. Massie's assertion that AG Garland perjured himself by claiming no knowledge of whether federal assets were in the Jan. 6 crowd, the FBI had previously acknowledged in testimony that an unknown number of agents and "confidential human sources" were indeed part of the crowd that protested and rioted in and around the Capitol building.
"The American public isn't buying it," Massie told Garland before yielding back the remainder of his time, only to then add a moment later that "The charge is a joke" after Garland attempted to disavow any connection between Epps and the FBI and to explain the meager indictment against him.