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Garland to highlight law enforcement experience at confirmation hearing

In his opening statementGarland will pledge to oversee the pursuit of the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and will describe the insurgency as “a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government. . ”

While the Biden administration is clearly keen to showcase Garland’s law enforcement powers, officials are also trying to keep in mind the racial justice protests that erupted last year and the resurgence activism against police abuse. The judge plans to declare that the application of civil rights laws is at the heart of the Department of Justice, according to the prepared text.

“This mission remains urgent because we do not yet have equal justice,” Garland said. “Communities of color and other minorities continue to face discrimination in housing, education, employment and the criminal justice system; and bear the brunt of the damage caused by the pandemic, pollution and climate change. “

Parts of Garland’s statement appear intended to allay concerns of Republicans protesting abuses in the surveillance process highlighted in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s links to Russia, while other parts look like to not so veiled criticisms of the functioning of the Ministry of Justice. under former President Donald Trump.

Garland will promise to apply “policies which protect the independence of the Department from partisan influence in police investigations” and those “which set guidelines for domestic FBI operations and foreign intelligence gathering.”

There are also cries for decent treatment of the press, more generous disclosure of government documents under the Freedom of Information Act and for a respectful approach to DOJ career staff. The latter mention appears to be a sort of retort to Attorney General William Barr’s comments last year that many in the Justice Department viewed as disparaging career prosecutors.

Biden introduced Garland as his choice to lead the Justice Department on January 7. While Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) Sought to act swiftly on the nomination, Senate committee membership remained in limbo for weeks as the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Drafted an organizational resolution to govern the evenly divided chamber.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, struck a deal with Durbin earlier this month to make an exception to the committee’s 28-day delay between receiving a candidate’s documents and holding a hearing. The Garland committee vote is scheduled for March 1.

Even though Senate Republicans blocked Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court in 2016, several GOP lawmakers have commented positively on the judge and he is expected to receive broad bipartisan support for the attorney general.

The Justice Department also released endorsements of Garland from civil rights groups and law enforcement organizations on Saturday. While letters supporting Garland from liberal racial justice advocates were widely expected, some of the promises of law enforcement support were more surprising, though many in this community have long-standing ties to Biden.

The Fraternal Order of the Police, which endorsed Donald Trump in 2016 and last year, is among those putting their weight behind Garland.

“Throughout his tenure as federal prosecutor and federal judge, Justice Garland has demonstrated a keen legal mind, a reputation for fairness and honesty, and respect for law enforcement officers. order. ” FOP President Patrick Yoes wrote. “While we anticipate that we may have serious disagreements on some issues, due to his character and dedication to public service and law enforcement, we are cautious, but hope we will be able to build a working relationship with Judge Garland, it be confirmed.

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