President Joe Biden's attorney general nominee, Merrick Garland, vowed on Monday to protect the integrity of the Justice Department from partisan influence, in an effort to restore confidence after President Donald Trump repeatedly sought to bend the department to his will.
Merrick Garland, President Joe Biden's attorney general nominee, vowed on Monday to protect the integrity of the Justice Department from partisan influence in an effort to restore confidence after President Donald Trump repeatedly sought to bend the department to his will - a point made by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin, a Democrat, during Garland's confirmation hearing.
"After four tumultuous years of intrigue, controversy and brute political force, the future of the department is clearly in the hands of the next attorney general.
Under attorney general [Jeff] Sessions and his successor Bill Barr, the Justice Department literally became an arm of the White House." Trump for years attacked Justice Department investigations of his 2016 campaign and Russian election interference as a "witch hunt" or a "hoax." Garland, if confirmed, will inherit an investigation into the origin of those probes and also one into Biden's son Hunter.
CHUCK GRASSLEY [OFF-CAMERA]: "So have you discussed this Hunter Biden case with the President or anyone else?" MERRICK GARLAND: "I have not.
The President made abundantly clear in every public statement before and after my nomination that decisions about investigations and prosecutions will be left to the Justice Department.
That was the reason that I was willing to take on this job." Garland also vowed to make the investigation of the January 6th riots at the U.S. Capitol a top priority, saying he feared the attack was (quote), "not necessarily a one-off." Garland has experience in tackling such threats, having managed the sprawling investigation into the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing by anti-government extremists and supervising the prosecution of the so-called Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski after a deadly bombing spree.
Garland was President Barack Obama's pick to be a Supreme Court Justice in 2016, but was famously denied the chance after Republican Mitch McConnell refused to hold a Senate confirmation hearing for him.
At his confirmation hearing for attorney general Monday, Garland also said he intends to prioritize enforcing the civil rights laws, and became emotional when speaking about his own family's history confronting hate and discrimination.
[fighting back tears] "I came from a family where my grandparents fled anti-semitism and persecution.
The country took us in, and... protected us.
And I feel an obligation to the country to pay back.
And this is the highest, best use of my own set of skills to pay back." A federal appellate judge and former prosecutor, Garland is widely expected to be confirmed as the nation's top U.S. law enforcement official.