Merrick Garland, President Joe Biden’s nominee for lawyer basic, sat Monday for his first of two days of questioning by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
If confirmed, the 68-year-old federal appellate choose and former nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, will function the nation’s high regulation enforcement officer.
Here are 5 takeaways from Monday’s affirmation listening to.
Garland vowed to make an ongoing federal investigation into the January 6 U.S. Capitol siege his “first priority,” calling the riot “the most heinous attack on the democratic processes.”
The assault by supporters of former President Donald Trump, which left 5 folks lifeless, together with a Capitol Police officer, has led to 1 of the biggest and most complicated investigations within the Justice Department’s historical past.
Garland advised lawmakers that one of the primary issues he’ll do as lawyer basic is get a briefing on the FBI investigation and guarantee prosecutors have the resources they should do their job.
At the identical time, he added, “I intend to make sure that we look more broadly, to look at where this is coming from, what other groups there might be that could raise the same problem in the future, and that we protect the American people.”
The FBI has charged greater than 250 folks in reference to the assault and is investigating a number of hundred extra. So far, roughly 30 are recognized to have ties to extremist teams.
A choose on the federal appeals court docket for the District of Columbia for the previous 24 years, Garland has in depth home terrorism investigation expertise. In the mid-Nineteen Nineties, he led the federal investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 folks.
Garland stated one other high precedence will probably be implementing civil rights legal guidelines.
Noting that the Justice Department was based within the aftermath of the Civil War to guard the civil rights assured below three constitutional amendments, Garland stated “we do not yet have equal justice.”
“Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment and the criminal justice system,” he stated in his opening assertion.
Among different issues, he stated the Justice Department will maintain police departments accountable by investigating misconduct and civil rights violations.
Under Trump, the Justice Department all however stopped finishing up such investigations.
Garland additionally stated he “strongly supports” new laws strengthening voting rights.
Asked whether or not he helps reinstating a 2003 moratorium on capital punishment, Garland stated he was “very concerned” in regards to the giant quantity of individuals who have been sentenced to dying and later exonerated, and the disproportionate affect of the dying penalty on folks of coloration.
In a report launched Thursday, the Death Penalty Information Center stated 185 dying row inmates have been wrongfully convicted and later exonerated for the reason that Nineteen Seventies.
Biden is the primary U.S. president to oppose the dying penalty. Garland stated that given Biden’s opposition, it’s “not at all unlikely that we will return to the previous” moratorium.
The Trump administration resumed capital punishment final year, executing an unprecedented 13 folks throughout Trump’s remaining six months in office.
If confirmed, Garland will take the helm of the Justice Department at a time when morale has ebbed following the controversial tenure of Trump’s second lawyer basic, William Barr. Democrats accused Barr of politicizing the division and serving as Trump’s personal lawyer, an accusation Barr’s defenders reject.
In his testimony, Garland pressured the significance of preserving the independence of the lawyer basic, saying he’ll “be the lawyer not for any individual but for the people of the United States.”
Several Republicans sought Garland’s reassurance that he wouldn’t permit politically motivated investigations of the administration’s political enemies.
“Absolutely,” Garland stated in response to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s question.
Hunter Biden, Mueller probe
Garland will inherit a pair of politically delicate investigations: a tax fraud investigation of Biden’s son Hunter, and a separate particular counsel probe of the origins of the Robert Mueller investigation of Russian intervention within the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Trump.
The Biden administration not too long ago stated that two Trump-appointed prosecutors main these two investigations will keep on to finish their probes.
Garland stated he had “no reason to think that was not the correct decision,” however he declined to decide to not firing them with out trigger.