On Monday, almost five years later than expected, Judge Merrick Garland appeared before the U.S. Senate Justice Committee for a hearing.
Garland is president Joe Biden candidate for Minister of Justice. Five years ago, he was the then president Barack Obaman candidate for a new judge of the Supreme Court. Then the Republican leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell however, he blocked Garland’s appointment and was never even summoned for a hearing.
The appointment of the Minister of Justice requires the approval of the Senate. This time, Garland’s appointment is expected to go through with the support of both parties.
Minister of Justice the task is one of the most important for the U.S. administration. Even if the minister is appointed by the president, this should lead law enforcement independently, respecting the rule of law.
Biden’s predecessor, the president Donald Trump attacked this principle throughout his presidency. He treated the justice minister as his own lawyer, many prosecutors as his enemies, and believed the judges he appointed would make decisions according to their own wishes.
Trump has served as Attorney General for the longest time Bill Barr nurtured Trump’s use for a long time with his own interpretation of the Constitution. Barr considers the powers of the president to be broader than most legal scholars.
Biden has assured that he does not intend to mess up politics with Justice Department decisions, and Garland said he trusted that.
“I’m not the president’s lawyer. I am a US attorney, “Garland said in his hearing.
About politics however, it is impossible to strive to get rid of. Garland’s duties inevitably include Trump’s period estate settlement.
The future Attorney General himself named his most important task in investigating the conquest of Congress and holding the perpetrators accountable. Garland has previous experience in investigating domestic terrorism. In the 1990s, he was the chief prosecutor in the Oklahoma City bombing investigation.
The 1995 attack killed 168 people and injured more than 800. The attack was condemned Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh. McVeigh had connections to the far right. Garland sought and was sentenced to death.
“We are now facing a more dangerous era than we faced in Oklahoma City,” Garland said Monday.
He also drew signs of parity between the bombing and the conquest of Congress. The perpetrators of the bombing tried to provoke a revolution that would overthrow the federal government. He described the conquest of Congress as a “disgusting attack” aimed at undermining a peaceful change of power, one of the cornerstones of democracy.
Congressional there is also the question of Trump’s responsibility as the inspirer of the occupiers. The Senate acquitted the former president, but at least in theory he could still face criminal responsibility for inciting violence.
However, according to public estimates, prosecution is unlikely. Biden was asked about the issue during a television question time last week, and the president said he would leave the matter to the independent Ministry of Justice.
At the hearing, Mr Garland did not comment.
“We start from the bottom [mellakkaan osallistuneista ihmisistä] and we will continue from there to the other participants, ”Garland said.
“We follow the clues where they take us.”
Even if the Department of Justice does not prosecute Trump, he could be prosecuted in civil lawsuits.
Monday at the hearing, Republican senators also asked Garland about other politically inflammatory degrees. Senator Chuck Grassley asked if Garland had talked to Biden about this boy Hunter to Biden investigation.
“I’m not,” Garland replied.
“The President has made it clear in all his public statements that decisions on investigations and prosecutions are the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice.”
Republicans also asked Garland if this was going to continue the special prosecutor John Durham investigation. Durham explains how the investigation into Trump’s election campaign that explored Russia’s connections began.
Garland said, at least for now, he sees no reason to suspend the investigation, but said he knows very little about it.
In his opening remarks Garland drew long lines from history to the present. He recalled that when the Ministry of Justice was established 150 years ago, one of its key tasks was to monitor the realization of civil rights. The first director of the ministry filed charges against hundreds of members of the racist Ku Klux Klan, Garland said.
“That task is still acute because justice is not equal.”
Garland referred to discrimination faced by minorities in areas such as the housing market, education, employment and the legal system. After mentioning the Ku Klux Klan, he said supporters of white supremacy participated in the conquest of Congress.
The emphasis on civil rights and the fight against discrimination is also a response to the widespread anti-racism and police violence that rocked the United States last summer. Activists and the left wing of the Democrats have called for cuts in police funding.
“President Biden has said he does not support the cuts and neither do I,” Garland said.