When the U.S. Department of Justice chose to continue pursuing its defense of former President Donald Trump in a defamation case brought by a journalist who accused him of rape, it touched off a political firestorm on the left.

But the decision last month is just one example of the political minefield Attorney General Merrick Garland is navigating as the Justice Department attempts to handle politically fraught cases left over from the Trump administration while reasserting its independence.

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