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Garland stresses independence in first speech at DOJ

Garland stresses independence in first speech at DOJ
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In his first speech as attorney general, Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandDOJ proposes crackdown on 'ghost guns' following Biden pledge America's Jewish communities are under attack — Here are 3 things Congress can do Biden set to flex clemency powers MORE sought to assert the independence the Department of Justice would seek under the Biden administration.

“The only way we can succeed and retain the trust of the American people is to adhere to the norms that have become part of the DNA of every Justice Department employee,” Garland said, nodding to complaints that the department became deeply politicized under former President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Memo: The Obamas unbound, on race Iran says onus is on US to rejoin nuclear deal on third anniversary of withdrawal Assaults on Roe v Wade increasing MORE

Garland was confirmed Wednesday with a highly bipartisan 70-30 vote and is set to be ceremonially sworn in Thursday evening by Vice President Harris.

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“Those norms require that like cases be treated alike. That there not be one rule for Democrats, and another for Republicans; one rule for friends and another for foes; one rule for the powerful and another for the powerless; one rule for the rich and another for the poor; or different rules, depending upon one's race or ethnicity,” Garland told employees from the Justice Department's Great Hall.

Garland will have to balance rebuilding the agency with a wide-ranging domestic terrorism probe and controversial policy fights on issues such as police reform and immigration.

Those will spark immediate tests that could have far-reaching political repercussions, testing his pledge for independence. 

Garland will have to decide whether to take the unprecedented step of investigating and potentially prosecuting a former president following accusations that Trump stoked the Jan. 6 riot that overran the Capitol and left five people dead.

The department is also carrying out a tax investigation into Hunter Biden, President BidenJoe BidenDefense lawyers for alleged Capitol rioters to get tours of U.S. Capitol Sasse to introduce legislation giving new hires signing bonuses after negative jobs report Three questions about Biden's conservation goals MORE's son, that is being closely watched by Republicans, who also pressed Garland to let special counsel John DurhamJohn DurhamGarland stresses independence in first speech at DOJ Senate votes to confirm Garland as attorney general Special counsel investigating Russia probe to retire as US attorney MORE continue his probe into the origins of the 2016 investigation into Russia's election interference and the Trump campaign.