Confirmation Hearings Begin For President Biden’s Attorney General Nominee

Monday, February 22nd 2021, 4:25 pm


The confirmation process for one of President Joe Biden's most important Cabinet picks -- his choice for attorney general -- got underway Monday in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Merrick Garland has been a federal appellate judge in the District of Columbia since 1997. Prior to that, he was at the Department of Justice where he played a key role in bringing justice to victims of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Now, some 25 years later, he'll be asked to serve up justice to those who brought terror last month to the U.S. Capitol.

In his opening statement, Garland was quick to make the connection between what he has said is the most significant work of his career to date and what he calls the most heinous attack on the democratic process he’s ever seen.

"From 1995 to 1997, I supervised the prosecution of the perpetrators of the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, who sought to spark a revolution that would topple the federal government," Garland said. "If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of White supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6.”

Considered politically moderate, Garland is expected to be approved with bipartisan support. Still, Republicans on the committee asked questions to test his independence and make sure he has an open mind on issues that might be unpleasant for Biden.

"Have you discussed this Hunter Biden case with the president?" Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley asked.

"I have not," Garland said. "The president made it abundantly clear ... that decisions about investigations and prosecutions will be left to the Justice Department."

Democrats, who are still smarting over the fact that Republicans blocked Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court in 2016, want to be sure Garland is willing to give the committee the department's full cooperation as they look into things that happened under former President Donald Trump.

Committee Chair Sen. Richard Durbin, (D-IL), asked about the previous administration's controversial policy of separating children from their asylum-seeking parents at the border.

"I think that the policy was shameful," Garland said. "I can’t imagine anything worse than tearing parents away from children, and we will provide all of the cooperation that we possibly can."

According to a schedule posted on the Judiciary Committee's website, members will hear from outside witnesses Tuesday and then will vote on whether to send the nomination on to the full Senate next Monday.