The prosecutor nominee drew parallels with the threat of domestic terrorism faced by the Justice Department in confronting the Ku Klux Klan, as well as with the indictment he led of Timothy McVeigh in the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma
POLICY | Garland, a federal appeals court judge, expected to be confirmed with bipartisan support | PHOTO EFE
Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland said Monday that his first briefing and top priority, if confirmed, would focus on the extensive investigation into the January 6 riots in the United States Capitol, as he generally vowed to end the growing threat of internal terrorism.
In testifying at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Garland drew parallels with the threat of domestic terrorism faced by the Justice Department in confronting the Ku Klux Klan, as well as with the indictment he led of Timothy McVeigh in the bombing with bombing a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
“We are facing a more dangerous period than the one we faced in Oklahoma City at the time,” Garland said, promising a comprehensive investigation not only into the rioters, but also into those who aided them.
“We start with the people on the ground and work our way up to those who are involved and most involved,” Garland said.
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And he added: “We also have to focus on what is happening across the country and where this could spread, and where did this come from.”
Garland, a federal appeals court judge, is expected to be confirmed with bipartisan support, though Monday’s hearing offered Democrats and Republicans a chance to pressure the candidate on how he would handle the department.
Republicans sought promises of targeted investigations and prosecutions in politically sensitive cases, notably Special Counsel John Durham’s review of the 2016 FBI investigation into Donald Trump’s campaign.
As Democrats claimed that the Justice Department had become politicized in the Trump administration, Republicans expressed dissatisfaction with the actions during the Obama administration and asked Garland to assure them that he would not revert to Obama-era policies.
Garland said he saw “no reason” to end the Durham investigation, though he also declined to provide a firm commitment to give Durham the time and resources to finish his work.
Garland told Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) that, if confirmed, he would speak to the special counsel. Grassley pressed Garland on whether he would just eliminate Durham “for a cause.”
“I really have to get a chance to talk to him. I haven’t had that opportunity, ”Garland replied. “As I said, I have no reason from what I know now, which is really very little, to make any determination in that area. But I have no reason to think that it shouldn’t stay in place, ”he pointed out.
Garland also declined to commit to making Durham’s findings public, though he said it generally favored transparency.
The exchange seemed to partially appease Grassley, who said, “I think you’ve come close to satisfying me, but maybe not completely.” Grassley noted that when then-attorney general candidate William P. Barr appeared before the committee, he had offered firmer support for Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
“It is vitally important that the special counsel be allowed to complete his investigation,” Barr said at the time.
Senator Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.) asked Garland if he had read a report from the Justice Department inspector general, which appears to be the basis of the Durham investigation. The report was particularly critical of one aspect of the FBI investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign: requests to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to keep an eye on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Garland said yes, and his general opinion is that there were certainly serious issues regarding [esas] requests, particularly for Mr. Page, and supported consideration of that matter. But pressed more explicitly for a full endorsement of Durham, he objected.
“Do you think the Durham investigation is a legitimate investigation?” Graham asked.
“I really don’t know anything about the investigation,” Garland replied.
When asked later why he wouldn’t back Durham like Barr had Mueller, Garland replied, “I don’t know what he considered, but for me, I have to be there and learn what’s going on.”
Similarly, when asked about Delaware Federal Attorney David C. Weiss’s ongoing investigation into Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son, Garland did not offer specific commitments, but said: “I understand that he was allowed to the Delaware federal prosecutor to remain as federal prosecutor, and I, again, have absolutely no reason to doubt that it was the correct decision.
Text taken and translated from The Washington Post
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