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Garland calls Capitol riot ‘heinous attack’ in opening statement to Senate Judiciary Committee

“If confirmed, I will oversee 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 established government. elected, ”Garland says. in the statement.

The attorney general candidate plans to stress that the role is meant to “serve the rule of law and ensure equality of justice under the law,” noting that July 2020 marked the 150th anniversary of the founding of the ministry of Justice in the aftermath of the civil war and that its main mission was to guarantee the civil rights promised by the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments.

“The mission remains urgent because we do not yet have equal justice,” Garland plans to say. “Communities of color and other minorities continue to face discrimination in housing, education, employment and the criminal justice system.”

Barring any surprises during his hearing, he is set to become Biden’s first attorney general, bringing a longtime legal scholar with a steady hand into a department that vacillates between crises. Garland worked at the Department of Justice as the Assistant United States Attorney in Washington, DC, and if confirmed by the Senate, he will leave the bench for 24 years.

He will also explain why he is leaving a life-time federal judge.

“… (M) one of you asked why I would agree to quit a lifetime position as a judge,” Garland said in the statement. “I told you I love being a judge. I also told you that it was an important moment for me to move forward because of my deep respect for the Ministry of Justice and its essential role in ensuring the rule of law.

Although a confluence of factors led to Biden’s selection of Garland last month, people familiar with the matter say it was largely based on Biden’s belief that Garland could rise above politics. in the post-Trump era.

“You won’t work for me,” Biden said when announcing Garland’s appointment. “You are not the president’s or the vice-president’s lawyer. Your loyalty isn’t to me. It’s to the law, the Constitution.”

For Garland’s boosters, it was his reputation for fairness, honed for more than two decades in the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, that made him a good candidate to lead the ministry out of the Trump era. . His success in restoring public confidence in the ministry, however, may depend in large part on his political skill.

Former President Barack Obama appointed Garland to the Supreme Court after a vacancy was created by the death of Judge Antonin Scalia in 2016, but his appointment was scuttled by Senate Republicans who held a majority in the chamber in the time.

When former President Donald Trump took office, Garland’s appointment expired and he returned to his post as Chief Justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. He resigned his post as chief justice in February 2020, but still sits in court. Former President Bill Clinton appointed him to the court in 1997.

From the sprawling investigation into the January insurgency to sensitive investigations by presidential allies, the workload at the Justice Department is more controversial than ever, and Garland will be greeted by a workforce whose rejection of political maneuvering of their former boss was unprecedented.

More than 200 former federal judges, US lawyers and senior Justice Department officials have signed letters of support for Garland, urgently asking the Senate to confirm him “as soon as possible.”

Republicans, on the other hand, have already announced that they will try to get the judge out during his confirmation hearing on the federal hot button inquiries of Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the president’s son. , Hunter Biden, setting up Garland’s first opportunity to reveal how he’s going to handle his full plate of political issues.

Prior to his appointment as a U.S. circuit judge, Garland served as the Senior Assistant Attorney General. He oversaw the investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, which killed more than 160 people and injured several hundred more. Garland also led the investigation into the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing, in which two people died and over 100 others were injured.

In addition, the judge served as the Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1989 to 1992, and Assistant to the Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice from 1993 to 1994.

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN’s Paul LeBlanc, David Shortell, Katelyn Polantz, Joan Biskupic and Christina Carrega contributed to this report.

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