AG Nominee Garland Says He Would Oversee Prosecution of Jan. 6 Protesters

February 21, 2021 Updated: February 21, 2021

President Joe Biden’s choice for attorney general, Merrick Garland, has pledged to supervise the prosecution of protesters who breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, according to a prepared opening statement for his confirmation hearing.

Garland’s hearing is scheduled to begin on Feb. 22 and will extend over two days. The appellate court judge, who was best known for being nominated by President Barack Obama in 2016 to the Supreme Court, was tapped by Biden in early January to lead the Justice Department.

The judge is expected to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that if confirmed, he would “supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6,” which he characterized as “a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government.”

He will stress his experience in “battling extremist attacks,” reminding lawmakers that he had supervised the prosecution of the perpetrators of the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people, including many children.

Garland will also pledge to serve the rule of law and ensure equal justice under the law, according to his prepared remarks.

If confirmed, Garland will be required to oversee a number of politically sensitive cases, included an investigation into the taxes of Biden’s son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe into the origins of the 2016 counterintelligence investigation into Russia and former President Donald Trump’s campaign.

“If I am confirmed, serving as Attorney General will be the culmination of a career I have dedicated to ensuring that the laws of our country are fairly and faithfully enforced, and that the rights of all Americans are protected,” the judge is expected to say.

He also reiterated his commitment to remain independent from Biden, saying that “the president nominates the Attorney General to be the lawyer—not for any individual, but for the people of the United States.”

Garland’s remarks come after intense media scrutiny of Trump’s last attorney general, Bill Barr, who was frequently accused by Democrats, Trump critics, and the liberal media of interfering with politically sensitive cases and of allegedly obstructing justice to help Trump and his allies.

The nation’s former top law enforcement officer regularly disputed the characterization and accusations, saying on multiple occasions that he was upholding the rule of law and restoring a single standard of justice across the United States.

“I wanted to make sure that we restore confidence in the system. There’s only one standard of justice,” Barr previously said in an interview.

There is no mention of Barr in Garland’s statement or actions taken under Trump’s DOJ.

Garland, who is serving as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, will also tell the panel why he would agree to leave his lifetime appointment as a judge.

“I have told you that I love being a judge. I have also told you that this is an important time for me to step forward because of my deep respect for the Department of Justice and its critical role in ensuring the Rule of Law,” he said.

To be confirmed, Garland must receive a majority of votes in the Senate. Democrats control the chamber.

Biden also announced Lisa Monaco as nominee for deputy attorney general, Vanita Gupta as nominee for associate attorney general, and Kristen Clarke as nominee for assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division.

The committee is scheduled to vote on Garland’s nomination on March 1.

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.

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