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Merrick Garland vows to lead Capitol attack prosecutions if confirmed as attorney general

February 20, 2021

Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland will pledge to take the lead in prosecuting those charged over the U.S. Capitol siege and vow prosecutorial independence from President Biden at his confirmation hearing Monday.

Why it matters: As attorney general, Judge Garland would oversee politically sensitive cases, including an investigation into the taxes of the president’s son Hunter Biden and another on the origins of the probe into former President Trump’s dealings with Russia.

Driving the news: Per his prepared opening statement released Saturday night, Garland plans to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that if confirmed, he’ll fight discrimination and domestic terrorism.

  • He’ll highlight his career as a prosecutor — notably his supervision of the investigation into domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people.
  • On the Capitol siege, Garland will say that he intends to “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.”
  • On the independence of the position of attorney general, Garland will say: “The President nominates the attorney general to be the lawyer — not for any individual, but for the people of the United States.”

Background: Garland, 68, is a Chicago native and graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School, who has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 1997.

  • He was nominated by President Obama in 2016 to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
  • But then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell prevented this, insisting the replacement should be selected by the newly elected president later that year. Justice Neil Gorsuch was later confirmed instead under the Trump administration.

Read Garland’s full opening statement, via DocumentCloud:

Editor’s note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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