WASHINGTON (AP) President Joe Bidens, candidate for attorney general, says the Justice Department must ensure laws are applied fairly and faithfully and the rights of all Americans are protected, while reaffirming compliance with policies designed to protect the political independence of the department.
Judge Merrick Garland, who is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, plans to tell senators that the attorney general must act as an advocate for the people of the United States, not the president. The Justice Department released a copy of Garlands’ opening statement on Saturday evening.
If confirmed, Garland would inherit a Justice Department that has gone through a tumultuous time under President Donald Trump, riddled with political drama and controversial decisions and abundant criticism from Democrats on what they are. saw the politicization of the country’s main law enforcement agencies.
Now is the time to reaffirm that the role of the attorney general is to serve the rule of law and ensure equal justice before the law, Garland said in his prepared statement.
Former attorney general William Barr had also sought to present himself as an independent leader who would not give in to political pressure. But Democrats have repeatedly accused Barr of acting more like Trump’s personal lawyer than the attorney general. They highlighted a number of controversial decisions, including the quashing of career prosecutors to recommend a lower sentence for Trump ally Roger Stone and the decision to drop the criminal case against the former security adviser. Trump nationalist Michael Flynn after twice pleading guilty to lying to the FBI.
Barr resigned in late December, weeks after telling The Associated Press that the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread electoral fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, countering unfounded allegations of fraud Trump election campaign.
In his prepared remarks, Garland, a federal appeals judge who was snubbed by Republicans in 2016 for a Supreme Court seat, outlines his plan to prioritize the work of the civil rights services after the protests reports last year on the deaths of black Americans by police. It underlines a key mission of the division: to protect the rights of all Americans, and especially the most vulnerable.
This mission remains urgent because we do not yet have equal justice. 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 from the pandemic, pollution and climate change, Garland says.
Garland also addresses domestic terrorism and growing extremist threats, highlighting his previous work at the Department of Justice overseeing prosecutions following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
And as federal prosecutors continue to carry cases in the wake of the Jan.6 riot on the U.S. Capitol, Garland calls the insurgency a heinous attack aimed at distrusting a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer. from power to a newly elected government.
So far, the Justice Department has charged more than 200 people with federal riot-related crimes, including members of extremist groups accused of conspiracy and other offenses.
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