Merrick Garland 'largely left the stage to' Trump with insurrection silence: analyst
US Attorney General Merrick Garland (AFP)

Attorney General Merrick Garland's decision to remain largely silent on the investigation into former President Donald Trump and the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt may be leaving the door open for right-wing extremists to spread propaganda, according to a legal analyst.

Garland has reportedly formed his tactic of remaining silent and speaking through his legal acts in previous cases, including with his work on the Timothy McVeigh case, lawyer Jeffrey Toobin wrote on Wednesday for the New York Times. Toobin, who is the author of a book on the Oklahoma City bombing case, said Garland told him in an interview that the prosecution handled the McVeigh case the way they did to avoid a spectacle like the one that occurred following the O.J. Simpson verdict.

"Mr. Garland appears to see the courtroom — and the law — as an almost sacred refuge from the tumult of modern life. The law, he believes, must be protected from not just the vulgarities of show business but also the passions of politics. This is why he has proceeded with such caution in the Trump investigation and especially why he has said so little about it in public," Toobin wrote in the New York Times opinion piece.

Toobin, who previously served as a chief legal analyst for CNN, added that there is "much to be commended in this kind of reticence" to avoid speaking about these complex issues publicly, in part because "it projects fairness and even-handedness."

"But there is a cost, too, in Mr. Garland ’s approach. As attorney general, Mr. Garland is responsible not just for bringing cases but also for warning the public of ongoing threats, including from political actors like Mr. Trump and his allies. The question is whether Mr. Garland ’s silence protects the law but also misses the chance to defend democracy," Toobin wrote in the Wednesday article.

In doing so, Toobin argues, Garland has "largely left the stage to" Trump.