Merrick Garland to Tell Confirmation Hearing He Will Prosecute 'White Supremacists'

Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland will promise to "supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol," as he seeks confirmation for his appointment next week.

President Joe Biden's pick will tell the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose members will consider his nomination on Monday and Tuesday, that "battling extremist attacks on our democratic institutions" remains central to the Justice Department's mission.

A preview of Garland's submission to the committee, first reported by Politico, shows that the Chicago-native will call the January 6 riot "a heinous attack."

"If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6—a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government," he is expected to say.

Garland, who has served 24 years as a judge, will also cite his experience in prosecuting those who were behind the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City, an attack also motivated by anti-government extremist beliefs.

Away from the Capitol attack, Garland also looks set to attempt to move the department away from accusations it faced under his predecessor, William Barr.

Barr, who served under ex-President Donald Trump, faced criticism as a partisan Trump loyalist during his days in office as the last full-time attorney general.

Those criticisms became louder following Barr's intervention in a case involving Trump's friend Roger Stone, and a federal judge's decision to issue a rare public warning about the independence of the courts.

Garland is now set to stress the need for "reaffirming the norms that will ensure the [DOJ's] adherence to the Rule of Law."

Garland says this will be achieved through the enforcement of policies that:

  • protect the DOJ "from partisan influence in law enforcement investigations"
  • regulate its communications with the White House
  • establish FBI operational guidelines
  • "ensure respectful treatment of the press"
  • "respect the professionalism" of DOJ's employees
  • set out principles to guide the exercise of federal prosecutorial discretion

Officials will also read the Freedom of Information Act "generously," he will add.

In recent weeks, the nominee has faced calls to investigate whether former President Donald Trump and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) violated laws when they pressured Georgia officials to overturn the state's election result.

During his testimony before the Judiciary Committee, Garland could also hear about Republican Senators request for an investigation into investigation into New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's alleged role in a nursing home scandal.

Garland's words, which may offer a glimpse into his priorities at the DOJ, do not mention specific allegations beyond the Capitol insurrection.

However, he will highlight the need to address racial injustices in the U.S., warning that the U.S. does "not yet have equal justice."

"Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment, and the criminal justice system; and bear the brunt of the harm caused by pandemic, pollution, and climate change," Garland will say.

In the testimony, he will also stress the DOJ's role in protecting Americans from:

  • environmental degradation
  • the abuse of market power
  • fraud and corruption
  • violent crime and cybercrime
  • drug trafficking and child exploitation

The department must achieve that, Garland will add, "without ever taking its eye off the risk of another devastating attack by foreign terrorists. The Attorney General takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies—foreign and domestic."

Merrick Garland at a U.S. District Court
Merrick Garland, centre, is expected to be confirmed as the Attorney General next week. Garland is pictured here at the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., during his time as Chief Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Alex Wong/Getty

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