Merrick Garland says Trump should have ‘quick trial’ in 2024 election

(CNN) — US Attorney General Merrick Garland said in an interview with CNN that he believes there should be a “speedy trial” in the election tampering case against Donald Trump, while denying allegations that his department is moving against the former president for political reasons.

Garland said he agreed with special prosecutor Jack Smith’s statement that the “public interest requires a speedy trial” of the 2020 election, which is currently scheduled for trial in March in Washington.

“The matter is now in the hands of the trial judge to determine when a trial will take place,” Garland said during a recorded interview Thursday.

Garland also defended his department against allegations of election interference when asked if he thought the federal case against Trump should have been filed early to prevent the front-runner from proceeding months before the presidential election.

“The cases were started last year. The prosecutor has requested that the trial be expedited, which I agree with. And now it’s in the hands of the judicial system, not in our hands,” Garland said. “The special prosecutors followed the facts and the law. They brought cases when they thought they were ready,” he added.

Asked about the notion that the Justice Department is prosecuting Trump for political reasons, Garland said, “Of course I’m concerned.”

“What we have to do is show by the actions we take that we follow the law, that we follow the facts,” he said.

A federal criminal case over Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election has been put on hold while a dispute over the former president’s claim to presidential immunity moves through the appeals process. It’s unclear whether that case — or three other criminal cases pending against the GOP presidential front-runner — will go to trial before the 2024 election.

Garland also defended the use of special prosecutors to lead several investigations into Trump, President Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter, arguing that the rules keep investigators independent.

“With respect to the public, I hope they’ll see, not only by what we’ve done but the outcome of the case and the way the special counsel has proceeded, that we’ve kept politics out of this,” Garland said.

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