Garland: Investigation into Capitol riot will be priority
Judge Merrick B. Garland on Monday said the United States faces “a more dangerous period” from domestic extremists than it faced at the time of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and praised the early stages of the investigation into the “white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol” on Jan. 6 as appropriately aggressive.
“I can assure you that this would be my first priority and my first briefing when I return to the department if I am confirmed,” Garland told the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing to be attorney general.
Garland, 68, who led the Justice Department’s investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing, also vowed to uphold the independence of a Justice Department that had suffered deep politicization under the Trump administration.
“I do not plan to be interfered with by anyone,” Garland said. Should he be confirmed, he said that he would uphold the principle that “the attorney general represents the public interest.”
Garland also pledged that he would cooperate with the committee’s investigation into the actions of the Trump-era Justice Department on immigration and its “zero tolerance policy” that led to large numbers of parents being separated from their children.
Garland said that he would reinvigorate the department’s civil rights division, which atrophied as the Trump administration curbed protections for transgender people and minorities.
“Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment and the criminal justice system,” Garland said.
Progressives who have decried police killings and assaults on Black people have pushed local governments to “defund” police. Garland said he does not support that.