Merrick Garland signals that Trump's threats won’t intimidate him
Judge Merrick Garland testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination to be US Attorney General(AFP)

Attorney general Merrick Garland has pledged to uphold the rule of law in what sounds like a challenge to Donald Trump, and a recent speech signaled the former president's threats haven't intimidated him to change his mind.

The twice-impeached ex-president has made veiled and not-so-veiled threats of street violence erupting if he's indicted in one of the various criminal investigations targeting him and his family business, but Garland directly challenged those warnings in a speech over the weekend at Ellis Island, according to The Bulwark columnist Charlie Sykes.

"The Rule of Law means that the same laws apply to all of us, regardless of whether we are this country’s newest citizens or whether our [families] have been here for generations," Garland said. "The Rule of Law means that the law treats each of us alike: there is not one rule for friends, another for foes; one rule for the powerful, another for the powerless; a rule for the rich, another for the poor; or different rules, depending upon one’s race or ethnicity or country of origin."

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Garland went on to say that political polarization could only be mended with honest, humility and respect for the law, and then he drew what Sykes saw as a red line around Trump's lawlessness.

"On this historic day and in this historic place, let us make a promise that each of us will protect each other and our democracy that we will honor and defend our Constitution, that we will recognize and respect the dignity of our fellow Americans, that we will uphold the Rule of Law and seek to make real the promise of equal justice under law," Garland said.

"That we will do what is right," he added, "even if that means doing what is difficult."

Garland previously said he had "personally approved" the dramatic raid on Trump's Florida home at Mar-a-Lago and, in a highly unusual move, requested that the warrant justifying the search be made public.

"I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant," Garland told reporters. "The department does not take such a decision lightly."

"The search warrant was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause," he said.

While noting that "ethical obligations" prevented him detailing the basis of the raid, Garland said in August that he had asked a Florida judge to unseal the warrant because Trump had publicly confirmed the search and because of the "substantial public interest in this matter."

With additional reporting by AFP

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