D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland, who was illegally deprived of a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court after the “Grim Reaper” of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, would not schedule a confirmation hearing for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee or even allow Republican senators to show him the courtesy of meeting with him regarding his nomination, in the worst crime against the U.S. Constitution until Donald Trump’s seditious insurrection against the U.S. government on January 6, will finally get a confirmation hearing in the Democratic run Senate on Monday.
The New York Times reports, Garland Says as Attorney General He Would Combat Domestic Extremism:
Judge Merrick B. Garland plans to tell senators on Monday that he will restore the Justice Department’s commitment to equal justice under the law, combat a resurgent domestic terrorist threat and work to root out widespread discrimination should he be confirmed as attorney general.
Judge Garland laid out his top three priorities in an opening statement that he intends to deliver before the Judiciary Committee on Monday when he begins confirmation hearings.
When President Biden nominated Judge Garland last month for the top law enforcement job, he said that the Justice Department’s 20th-century fight against the Ku Klux Klan showed that addressing domestic terrorism and systemic racism were historically one and the same.
The fight described by Mr. Biden — “to stand up to the Klan, to stand up to racism, to take on domestic terrorism” — illustrated the Justice Department’s pledge to protect the nation’s most cherished ideals and institutions.
Judge Garland mirrored that sentiment in his prepared remarks, which the Justice Department released late Saturday. The department was founded in the aftermath of the Civil War, he will say, and the first attorney general led a “concerted battle to protect Black voting rights from the violence of white supremacists, successfully prosecuting hundreds of cases against members of the Ku Klux Klan.”
“That mission remains urgent because we do not yet have equal justice,” Judge Garland is expected to say. “Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment and the criminal justice system.”
If confirmed as attorney general, Judge Garland will inherit a Justice Department that was deeply demoralized under President Donald J. Trump and his attorney general William P. Barr. Mr. Trump viewed the department as hostile toward him, treating it as either an enemy to be thwarted or a power to be wielded against his political enemies.
Mr. Barr’s tenure was largely shaped by the perception that he advanced the president’s personal and political agenda at the expense of the department’s independence, through actions such as undercutting its own inquiry into Russia and the Trump campaign.
[T]he Trump administration was also considered openly combative toward the department’s mission to defend civil rights, as it worked to curb civil rights protections for transgender people, dismantle affirmative-action-related policies in college admissions and do away with tools that people of color have used to change rules that effectively discriminate against them in housing, education and employment.
Judge Garland’s statement nods to that recent past. Now is a “fitting time to recognize the more than 115,000 career employees of the department,” he is expected to say, “and its law enforcement agencies, and their commitment to serve the cause of justice and protect the safety of our communities.”
The statement continues, “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.”
Several law enforcement and civil rights groups have written letters in support of Judge Garland’s nomination, and he is expected to draw backing from Republicans and Democrats alike.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and the Fraternal Order of Police said in letters submitted to the Judiciary Committee that they saw Judge Garland as a leader who respected the work of the police.
“Throughout his tenure as a federal prosecutor and a federal judge, Judge Garland has demonstrated a keen legal mind, a reputation for fairness and honesty, and a respect for law enforcement officers,” the Fraternal Order of Police said in its letter.
[C]ivil rights groups framed his record as one that showed his ability to build consensus on thorny issues.
Judge Garland understands that this moment in our history “requires healing; and for the Justice Department to vigorously protect the civil rights of marginalized communities,” said the National Action Network, a civil rights organization founded by the Reverend Al Sharpton.
If confirmed, Judge Garland will also lead the department at a time when the threat of far-right extremism has sharply increased, a threat made stunningly clear on Jan. 6, when militias, far-right nationalists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and followers of the QAnon conspiracy movement stormed the Capitol.
“One-hundred and fifty years after the department’s founding, battling extremist attacks on our democratic institutions also remains central to its mission,” Judge Garland is expected to say.
Merrick Garland’s previous stint at the Department of Justice included overseeing the investigation of the domestic terrorist attack by Timothy McVeigh bombing the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995, killing 168 people, including 19 children.
Judge Garland’s experience prosecuting domestic terrorism cases in the 1990s was the formative work of his career. Merrick Garland Faces Resurgent Peril After Years Fighting Extremism.The Oklahoma City case, he later said, was “the most important thing I have ever done in my life.”
In addition to Oklahoma City, Judge Garland supervised high-profile cases that included Theodore J. Kaczynski (a.k.a. the Unabomber) and the bombing at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. “The militias and the right-wing terrorists whom we encountered in the 1990s were a foreshadowing of the groups you saw storming the Capitol,” said Jamie Gorelick, who as deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton was Judge Garland’s immediate boss at the Justice Department. “Their literature is the same, their tattoos are similar, and their language is similar.”
Judge Garland will take over what prosecutors are calling the biggest, most complex investigation in Justice Department history, the Capitol assault that led to the second impeachment of President Donald J. Trump. So far there have been at least 230 arrests connected to the riot, but federal officials are investigating as many as 500 people in all. Prosecutors have brought five major cases involving 11 members of the Proud Boys, a far-right nationalist group that was out in force at the Capitol. Nine members of the Oath Keepers militia group have been charged with conspiring to stop the congressional certification of Mr. Biden’s victory.
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The scope of these law enforcement challenges are only part of what associates said would await Judge Garland at a Justice Department left battered, divided and demoralized under Attorney General William P. Barr. He will also inherit a docket of politically charged matters, including possible criminal inquiries into the conduct of the former president as well as an open investigation into the tax affairs of the current president’s son, Hunter Biden.
“He knows how hard this is going to be,” said Senator Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado and a former colleague at the Justice Department.
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On Friday, a large and bipartisan group of former Justice Department officials and former federal judges sent two letters to Senate leaders urging Judge Garland’s swift confirmation. Among them were four former attorneys general: Alberto R. Gonzales and Michael B. Mukasey, who served in the George W. Bush administration, and Eric H. Holder Jr. and Loretta Lynch, who served in the Obama administration. The group also included Ken Starr, the independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation.
[W]hatever his qualifications, no one disputes that the moment is daunting. In a statement last week, Mr. Biden said that despite the Senate acquittal, the substance of the House impeachment charge against Mr. Trump — incitement of insurrection — “is not in dispute,” leading reporters to ask the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, whether Mr. Biden supported a criminal prosecution of his predecessor.
Ms. Psaki referred the question to the next attorney general.
“That will be up to the Department of Justice to determine,” she said.
You can bet that Trump Fluffer Senator Lindsey Graham is going to want to know if Judge Garland will pursue a criminal investigation of Donald Trump for seditious insurrection, and a felony murder charge for the Capitol Police officer who died as a foreseeable consequence of the insurrection riot he instigated. The correct answer is that “the Department of Justice will not confirm the existence of or otherwise comment about ongoing investigations” before charges are publicly filed. So screw you, Lindsey.
Attorney Harry Litman writes at the LA Times, Biden chose well with Merrick Garland, but Garland could cause him a few headaches (excerpt):
Now a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, he served as an assistant United States attorney and as a senior official in the Justice Department from 1993 to 1997 when, among other things, he oversaw the successful prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombing.
I worked with Garland during those years and can attest that all the superlatives used to describe him are completely merited. He is a person of colossal ability and fierce dedication to the law. Apply those qualities, however, to what will greet him at the department — the sprawling investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection — and you begin to see what might give Biden a headache.
The storming of the Capitol struck at the heart of the most fundamental of federal interests. An attempted insurrection dictates an aggressive, comprehensive Justice Department response. (Some sugget a special prosecutor, but there’s no inherent conflict in investigating a previous administration.) U.S. attorneys have already begun to outline conspiracy charges against Proud Boys and others, but Garland will also have to aim beyond boots-in-the-Capitol actors.
As much as the Biden administration needs and wants to move past the Trump era, there’s no way around the former president’s starring role in the events of Jan. 6. For all the reasons laid out in vivid detail by the House managers at the impeachment trial, a comprehensive investigation will have to include close scrutiny of Trump’s conduct. Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) summed it up on Saturday: Did the former president stand on a powder keg of his own devising and light a match?
Trump won’t be the only high-level subject of DOJ scrutiny, either. Rudolph W. Giuliani, who rallied the day’s protesters-cum-terrorists to engage in “trial by combat,” and Donald Trump Jr., who joined in post-storming revelry and warned Republican lawmakers at the rally that “You can be a hero, or you can be a zero,” will also be investigated.
Investigations will also include Roger Stone and Alex Jones. U.S. investigating possible ties between Roger Stone, Alex Jones and Capitol rioters.
It’s a fair and interesting question whether any attorney general — who after all is a political appointee and serves at the president’s pleasure — may properly consider the political cost to his boss of applying the law.
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But now, moving forward requires looking back. Garland will fulfill Biden’s “your loyalty is to the nation” charge. Should the facts lead to the conclusion that the former president broke the law, I am certain Garland will not flinch. And that can only mean, in political terms, an unholy mess distracting the nation and Biden from his ambitious agenda.
And Jan. 6 isn’t the only Justice Department issue that may cause the president some pain.
Law enforcement is an inherently conservative enterprise. Garland may endorse some progressive justice reforms — for example, promoting stricter use of force rules in police practice or offering alternatives to prison for certain low-level offenses. But the bread and butter of what U.S. attorneys do is not in line with “defunding the police.” Members of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party who expect the Department of Justice to fundamentally revise its law-and-order mission are going to be disappointed, and they are likely to make their chagrin felt at the White House.
What they should expect instead, and what the nation needs, is for Merrick Garland to be an attorney general in the tradition of the illustrious Edward Levi, who took the reins of the department following the chaos and executive branch corruption of Watergate. Levi righted the institution and with it, the credibility of the federal justice system.
Garland’s confirmation will be great good news for the department, the country and the rule of law. For President Biden, however, it may be a little more complicated.