Garland expected to face tough questions during confirmation hearing to be Biden’s attorney general

WASHINGTON — Judge Merrick Garland, President Joe Biden’s nominee for attorney general, is expected to face questions Monday about how he would navigate some daunting challenges, together with investigations of Biden’s son and the actions of former President Donald Trump and his shut advisers.

During a confirmation hearing earlier than the Senate Judiciary Committee, Garland is probably going to stress defending the independence of the Justice Department from White House political interference in investigations after Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, was regularly accused by federal judges and others of placing Trump’s interests forward of the division’s.

When his nomination was introduced final month, Garland stated he would attempt to guarantee that “like cases are treated alike, that there not be one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans, one rule for friends, the other for foes.”

U.S. Circuit Judge Merrick Garland, President Joe Biden’s nominee to be attorney general, in Wilmington, Del., Jan. 7.Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Senators will search reassurances that he wouldn’t enable politics to affect a tax investigation, begun beneath Barr, of Biden’s son Hunter or an inquiry into former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s dealings with the Ukrainian authorities. He can even face questions about particular counsel John Durham, whom Barr appointed to study the FBI’s investigation of the 2016 Trump marketing campaign.

Democrats could press him to clarify how he would consider allegations that remarks by Trump and Giuliani incited the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The Senate voted not to convict Trump in an impeachment trial, however Republican chief Mitch McConnell of Kentucky stated: “We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation, and former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.”

Garland and his deputies would face the duty of managing the federal investigation of the riot, by which greater than 250 folks have been charged thus far, and greater than 550 open investigations. In his ready remarks for the hearing, he referred to as the riot “a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government.”

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He would confront an excellent greater problem in deciding whether or not and the way federal regulation ought to be modified to give the FBI extra latitude to examine home terrorism with out violating the suitable of free expression. Matthew Schneider, who as U.S. attorney in Detroit charged members of an extremist group with plotting to kidnap Michigan’s governor, stated it is among the largest questions going through regulation enforcement.

“Any time there is a significant event in U.S. history, there has been a change in the law,” he stated. “There was organized crime in the ’70s — they passed RICO [the federal racketeering law]. Credit card fraud in the ’80s, they passed ID statutes. After 9/11, they passed the Patriot Act. So the question is do you believe after January 6 we need a new domestic terrorism law?”

If he’s confirmed — as appears doubtless, with Democrats controlling the Senate — Garland would return to the division he left 24 years in the past to turn out to be a federal appeals decide in Washington. He first got here to public consideration in 1995: After the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, Garland was appointed to oversee the federal government’s dealing with of the case.

President Bill Clinton put him on the appeals court docket, and in 2016 President Barack Obama nominated him to succeed Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. But Republicans blocked the nomination, and Garland by no means even had a hearing.

Garland’s ready remarks stated the mission to uphold civil rights stays pressing. “We do not yet have equal justice. Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment, and the criminal justice system,” he stated.

A bipartisan group of greater than 150 former Justice Department officers signed a letter supporting Garland’s nomination, together with 4 former attorneys general: Democrats Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch and Republicans Alberto Gonzales and Michael Mukasey.

In asserting Garland’s nomination, Biden stated: “You won’t work for me. You are not the president or the vice president’s lawyer. Your loyalty is not to me. It’s to the law, the Constitution, the people of this nation.”

On Monday, Garland will reply hours of questions about how he would put that aim into follow.

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