(CNN) — U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in an interview with CNN that he believed there should be a “speedy trial” in the election subversion case against Donald Trump, while denying that his department opposed the former president for political reasons. Presidential charges.
Garland said he agreed with special counsel Jack Smith that “the public interest requires a speedy trial” in the 2020 election, which is currently scheduled for March in Washington.
“The matter now lies with the presiding judge to decide when to proceed to trial,” Garland said in an interview recorded Thursday.
Garland also defended his department against accusations of election interference when asked if he thought the federal case against Trump should have been filed earlier to prevent the front-runner from being prosecuted months before the presidential election.
“These cases were started last year. The prosecutor pushed for a speedy trial, and I agree with that. Now it’s in the hands of the justice system, not in our hands,” Garland said. “Special prosecutors follow the facts and the law. They bring charges when they feel they are ready,” he added.
Asked about the notion that the Justice Department was prosecuting Trump for political reasons, Garland said: “Of course I’m concerned.”
“What we have to do is use our actions to prove that we abide by the law and abide by the facts,” he said.
A federal criminal case involving Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election has been put on hold, while a dispute over the former president’s assertion of presidential immunity is heading into the appeals process. It’s unclear whether that case – or three other pending criminal cases against the Republican presidential candidate – will go to trial before the 2024 election.
Garland also defended his use of special counsels to lead multiple investigations into Trump, President Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter, saying regulations allowed investigators to remain independent.
“As far as the public is concerned, I hope they see not just in what we do, but in the outcome of the case and the way the special counsel handles it, that we have taken politics out of it,” Garland said.