Garland vows to fight ‘violent extremism’ as attorney general
Merrick Garland, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for attorney general, pledged to fight violent U.S. extremism on Thursday, the day after a violent mob of Trump supporters overran the Capitol.
Garland, a federal appeals court judge whom former President Obama had tried to install on the Supreme Court, made his first address since Biden announced his selection on Wednesday shortly before the riot on Capitol Hill.
He spoke of the Justice Department’s creation in 1870 during Reconstruction, as the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists sought to undermine through terrorism the rights of newly freed slaves.
“These principles ensuring the rule of law and making the promise of equal justice under law real are the great principles under which the Department of Justice was founded and for which it must always stand,” Garland said at an event in Wilmington, Del., alongside Biden. “They echo today in the priorities that lie before us, from ensuring racial equity in our justice system to meeting the evolving threat of violent extremism. If confirmed, those are the principles to which I will be devoted as attorney general.”
Biden and other Democratic leaders have expressed outrage following the storming of the Capitol, which left four people dead, including one who was fatally shot by police. Biden joined criticism of the law enforcement response to the riot on Wednesday, which failed to keep the mob out of the Capitol as Congress was preparing to certify his Electoral College victory.
“No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday — they would have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol,” Biden said as he was introducing Garland. “We all know that’s true. And it’s unacceptable. Totally unacceptable.”
Biden said he chose Garland in an effort “to fully restore trust in the rule of law and equal justice under the law” following President Trump’s tenure, and he believes there will not be a repeat of the judge’s failed Supreme Court nomination process. In 2016, Senate Republicans refused even to consider confirming Garland during Obama’s last year in office.
“I fully expect from the discussions I’ve had that he will receive a fair hearing and a swift confirmation,” Biden said.
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