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LIVE COVERAGE: Senate set to consider Garland for AG

President BidenJoe BidenBiden offers support to union organizing efforts Senate Democrats nix 'Plan B' on minimum wage hike Kavanaugh dismays conservatives by dodging pro-Trump election lawsuits MORE's pick for attorney general, Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandDOJ faces swift turnaround to meet Biden voting rights pledge Merrick Garland is right to prioritize domestic terrorism, but he'll need a bigger boat The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Finger-pointing on Capitol riot; GOP balks at Biden relief plan MORE, will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday for his first confirmation hearing. 

It's a big moment for Garland, who never got a confirmation hearing when former President Obama in 2016 nominated him to serve on the Supreme Court. 

The Hill will be providing updates on the confirmation hearing, which begins at 9:30 a.m., below.

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Durbin: Garland likely to get confirmation vote next week

2:14 p.m.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick DurbinDick DurbinSenate mulls changes to .9 trillion coronavirus bill Partisan headwinds threaten Capitol riot commission Murkowski undecided on Tanden as nomination in limbo MORE (D-Ill.) said Garland is expected to get a final confirmation vote next week.

Durbin said the Judiciary Committee will vote on Garland’s nomination March 1, setting up a floor confirmation vote for later that week.

“We’re hoping to have the markup in Judiciary next Monday and to have this on the floor that same week,” Durbin told reporters during a break in Garland's confirmation hearing.

Alexander Bolton

Garland talks of family fleeing anti-Semitism

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1:21 p.m.

Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerObama says reparations 'justified' Congressional Black Caucus unveils '100 Day Plan' Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill MORE (D-N.J.) elicited an emotional response from Garland in asking how his own family’s history has pushed him to a career confronting discrimination.

“My grandparents fled anti semitism and persecution. This country took us in and protected us. I feel an obligation to the country to pay back — and this is the highest and best of my own set of skills to pay back,” Garland said, repeatedly pausing to collect himself.

“So I very much want to be the kind of attorney general you’re saying I could become.” 

Garland’s comments came after a line of questioning by Booker focused on racial bias in the justice system.

“What are you going to do about this outrageous injustice that persists, and infects our society with such a toll on black and brown communities?” he asked.

Garland said he would use his role at the department to fight mass incarceration and reassess sentencing policies -- both of which were championed by President Biden on the campaign trail.

Rebecca Beitsch

Hawley grills Garland on 'defund the police,' summer attack on Portland courthouse

12:49 p.m.

Garland declared that he does not support defunding the police after being questioned by Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyFive takeaways from CPAC 2021 CPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be Sunday shows preview: 2024 hopefuls gather at CPAC; House passes coronavirus relief; vaccine effort continues MORE (R-Mo.) about the slogan of the Black Lives Matter movement, which launched protests around the country last year.

“President Biden has said he does not support defunding the police and neither do I,” Garland said. “We saw how difficult the lives of police officers were in the body-cam videos we saw when they were defending the Capitol.”

Garland said Biden, who co-authored the 1994 Crime Bill when he was in the Senate, “believes in giving resources to police departments to help them reform and gain the trust of their communities.”

Garland said he believes more resources need to go to developing “alternative ways of confronting some actors, particularly those who are mentally ill and those who are suicidal” so police officers don’t have to perform social service-oriented jobs they’re not trained to do.

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Hawley also asked the nominee to comment on the assaults on federal property that occurred over the summer during the protests over police brutality.

“Do you regard assaults on federal courthouses or other federal property as acts of domestic extremism, domestic terrorism?” Hawley asked, citing unrest in Portland and Seattle last year related to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Garland said he views use of violence or threats of violence in an attempt to disrupt a democratic process as meeting the definition of domestic extremism or terrorism.

“An attack on a courthouse while in operation, trying to prevent judges from actually deciding cases, that plainly is domestic extremism, domestic terrorism,” he said. “An attack simply on a government property at night or any other kind of circumstances is a clear crime and a serious one.”

Alexander Bolton

Garland: 'We have to be careful with how we use FISA'

12:22 p.m.

Under questioning from Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzFive takeaways from CPAC 2021 Trump wins CPAC straw poll with 55 percent 'SNL' envisions Fauci as game show host, giving winners vaccines MORE (R-Texas), Garland acknowledged that the FBI made serious mistakes in its application for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants to surveil Carter Page, an adviser to former President TrumpDonald TrumpSacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Sorkin uses Abbie Hoffman quote to condemn Capitol violence: Democracy is 'something you do' Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress MORE’s 2016 campaign.

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“I think there were problems with respect to the applications for several FISAs. They were not consistent with the internal regulations of the department and those problems had to be corrected,” Garland told Cruz when asked for thoughts on the executive summary of a 400-page report by the Department of Justice's inspector general, Michael Horowitz, which came out in December of 2019.

“I think deeply we have to be careful with how we use FISA and that’s a reason we have pretty strict regulations internally and policies. We need to find out why they aren’t followed and to be sure they are followed,” he added.

Garland was asked several times Monday morning by GOP senators to pledge to eliminate political bias from the Justice Department.

The Horowitz report, which looked into the Justice Department’s investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign, found the FBI probe was not motivated by political bias but found errors and omissions in the applications for FISA warrants.

“I thought as Mr. Horowitz explained and I believe Director Wray agreed there were problems with respect to the applications for several FISAs, that those were not consistent with the internal regulations of the department and those problems had to be corrected,” Garland said.

Cruz, however, expressed mild disappointment that Garland did not condemn the FBI’s mistakes more forcefully.

“So you describe the report as saying there were problems. That’s a fairly anodyne way of characterizing it, given the multiple material misstatements the Horowitz report details,” the Texas senator replied.

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Alexander Bolton

Garland says he doesn't believe he's Biden's lawyer

12:05 p.m.

Garland said that he does not consider himself to be President Biden's lawyer, as he's fielded multiple questions about concerns that the Justice Department has been increasingly politicized.

Garland was asked by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a potential 2024 White House contender, about then-Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderLIVE COVERAGE: Senate set to consider Garland for AG Census to delay data delivery, jeopardizing redistricting crunch Biden's commission on the judiciary must put justice over politics MORE calling himself a "wing-man" for then-President Obama.

"I don't want to comment on any individual's conduct. ... But I can assure you that I do not regard myself as anything other than the lawyer for the people of the United States. I am not the president's lawyer," Garland said.

The question came after Garland pledged to Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate mulls changes to .9 trillion coronavirus bill Biden brings back bipartisan meetings at the White House Politics, not racism or sexism, explain opposition to Biden Cabinet nominees MORE (R-Texas) that he would resign if asked to do something unconstitutional, and that he would not let politics impact decisions on cases and Department of Justice projections.

"I would not have taken this job if I thought that politics would have any influence over prosecutions and investigations," Garland said.

Jordain Carney

Garland says he would resign if asked to do something unlawful

10:54 a.m.

Garland told Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) that he would resign if asked to do something he believed to be unlawful or unethical, though the nominee said that he did not expect President Biden to ask him to take an action that was against the law.

“I do not expect this to happen with this president, who has made it completely clear publicly and in private that he will not do that, but of course if I am asked to do something and an alternative is not accepted, I would resign, yes,” Garland said.

Morgan Chalfant

Garland says he has not discussed Hunter Biden case with president

10:42 a.m.

Garland said that he has not discussed a Justice Department investigation involving Hunter Biden with President Biden or other members of the administration.

"I have not. The president made abundantly clear in every public statement ... that decisions about investigation and prosecutions will be left to the Justice Department," Garland said in response to a question from Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley to vote against Tanden nomination Grassley says he'll decide this fall whether to run in 2022 Yellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation MORE (R-Iowa).

"That was the reason that I was willing to take on this job. So the answer to your question is no," Garland added.

U.S. Attorney David Weiss of Delaware is handling the tax probe into Hunter Biden, who announced late last year that he was under investigation.

CNN reported earlier this month that the Biden administration had asked Trump-appointed U.S. attorneys to resign, but left Weiss and U.S. Attorney John DurhamJohn DurhamSpecial counsel investigating Russia probe to retire as US attorney Biden administration withdraws from Connecticut transgender athlete case Garland seeks to draw sharp contrast with Trump-era DOJ MORE, who is probing the origins of the Russia investigation, in place.

Jordain Carney

Garland calls Capitol riot 'most heinous attack' on American democracy

10:39 a.m.

Garland called the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol “the most heinous attack” on American democracy he has seen, pledging an increased role for the Department of Justice in fighting domestic terrorism.

“I think this was the most heinous attack on the democratic process that I've ever seen, and one that I never expected to see in my lifetime,” he said.

Garland said he would immediately request a briefing on the progress of the investigation.

“I intend to give the career prosecutors who are working on this manner 24/7 all of the resources they could possibly require to do this. And at the same time, I intend to make sure that we look more broadly to look at where this is coming from, what other groups there might be that could raise the same problem in the future,” he said.

Rebecca Beitsch

Garland: ‘No reason’ to question Durham appointment

10:28 a.m.

Garland told Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that he has no reason to question the decision by former Attorney General William BarrBill BarrMajority of Republicans say 2020 election was invalid: poll Biden administration withdraws from Connecticut transgender athlete case Justice Department renews investigation into George Floyd's death: report MORE to name U.S. Attorney John Durham a special counsel so that he could complete his investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, but Garland said he would need to speak to Durham about the probe if confirmed to lead the Justice Department.

Garland also said he saw no reason to think that Durham should not be allowed to continue his investigation.

“Sitting here today, I have no reason to think that that was not the correct decision,” Garland said, noting that he has very little information given that he has not yet been confirmed.

Garland also said he would uphold transparency but did not explicitly commit to releasing Durham’s final investigative report to the public.

“I would, though, have to talk with Mr. Durham and understand the nature of what he’s been doing and the nature of the report,” Garland said. “I am very much committed to transparency and explaining Justice Department decisionmaking.”

Morgan Chalfant

Garland pledges to fight domestic terrorism, restore department

10:24 a.m.

Garland vowed to boost Department of Justice's work fighting systemic injustice and combating domestic terrorism in his opening statement Monday.

“If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6  a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government,” Garland said.

The judge also nodded to the politicization of the department under the Trump administration.

“It is a fitting time to reaffirm that the role of the attorney general is to serve the rule of law and to ensure equal justice under the law. And it is a fitting time to recognize the more than 115,000 career employees of the department and its law enforcement agencies, and their commitment to serve the cause of justice and protect the safety of our communities,” he said.

Garland went on to cover the wide ranging responsibilities of the department, from protecting voting rights, fighting discrimination in housing and combating cybercrimes and drug trafficking.

He also touched on his willingness to leave a lifetime appointment on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“In conversations we have had before this hearing, many of you asked why I would agree to leave a lifetime appointment as a judge. I have told you that I love being a judge. I have also told you that this is an important time for me to step forward because of my deep respect for the Department of Justice and its critical role in ensuring the rule of law,” he said.

Rebecca Beitsch

Van Hollen, Duckworth introduce Garland

10:05 a.m.

Sens. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenMenendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill LIVE COVERAGE: Senate set to consider Garland for AG Plaskett quips male lawmakers 'would not have their wives in one attempt talking to her' during impeachment trial MORE (D-Md.) and Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthSenate Democrats call on GAO to review child care access barriers for disabled parents, kids Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers Lawmakers commemorate one-year anniversary of Arbery's killing MORE (D-Ill.) each delivered remarks introducing and endorsing Garland for the nomination. They appeared remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Van Hollen noted that Garland lives in Maryland and said the two have known each other for “many years.” Van Hollen described Garland as a man of character and kindness with the experience to lead the Justice Department.

“President Biden has picked a nominee with impeccable credentials and unimpeachable character,” Van Hollen said. “He embodies the decency, the impartiality and the commitment to justice that our nation deserves as the attorney general.”

Duckworth similarly advocated for Garland, who was born in Chicago and raised in the area.

“I have full confidence in his capability to lead the Department of Justice in an independent and impartial manner,” Duckworth said. “He will defend the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, no matter what they look like, who they love, how they pray or their disability status.”

Morgan Chalfant

Top GOP senator urges Garland to protect probe of Russia investigation

10:04 a.m.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, urged Garland to pledge during what's expected to be an hours-long hearing that he'll protect an ongoing investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation.

U.S. Attorney John Durham is deep into a sprawling investigation looking into the FBI's previous investigation into Russia's 2016 election meddling and the Trump campaign, which turned into former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE's probe.

Grassley's comments, made during his opening statement, is likely the first of several references Republicans are likely to make to the investigation. Then-Attorney General William Barr named Durham as a special counsel to investigate the matter — a move criticized by Democrats as a political effort aimed at trying to find fodder to undermine the FBI's previous campaign.

"I am especially concerned about the Durham investigation," Grassley said, adding that Garland needs "to be clear about what your position will be" on the probe.

Jordain Carney

Top Judiciary Committee Republican: Garland 'good pick' to lead DOJ

9:57 a.m.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the panel, defended the GOP's decision to block Garland's 2016 Supreme Court nomination while signaling he's open to supporting him to be Biden's attorney general.

"I admire Judge Garland's public service," Grassley said during his opening statement, adding that he thought Garland is a "good pick to lead the Department of Justice."

"I like you, I respect you ... I think you're a good pick for this job," Grassley added.

Grassley, who chaired the Judiciary Committee in 2016, noted that this was Garland's first time before the panel since becoming a D.C. circuit judge.

"I had something to do with that," Grassley said, referring back to 2016.

Then-President Obama nominated Garland to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016. But Republicans, who controlled the Senate at the time, refused to give him a hearing or a vote citing the presidential election. Republicans subsequently confirmed Justice Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettThe Jan. 6 case for ending the Senate filibuster Laurence Tribe: Justice Thomas is out of order on 2020 election McConnell backs Garland for attorney general MORE in 2020, days before the November election.

Grassley defended his handling of Garland's Supreme Court nomination, noting that he didn't "mischaracterize his record" or "go through his high school yearbook," an apparent reference to the nomination of Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughKavanaugh dismays conservatives by dodging pro-Trump election lawsuits Media circles wagons for conspiracy theorist Neera Tanden The Jan. 6 case for ending the Senate filibuster MORE.

Jordain Carney

Durbin: Garland must restore integrity to Justice Department, investigate Jan. 6 attack.

9:55 a.m. 

Newly minted Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in his opening statement said Garland’s biggest job as attorney general will be to rebuild the reputation of the Justice Department and to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Durbin noted that he is the first senator from Illinois to chair the Judiciary panel since Lyman Trumbull (R) headed the committee from 1861 to 1872, during the Civil War and its tumultuous aftermath.  

Durbin told Garland that “there have been few moments in history where the role of attorney general ... have mattered more.” 

“You will oversee a Justice Department in an existential moment,” Durbin said. “After four tumultuous years of intrigue, controversy and brute political forces, the future course of the department is clearly in transition.”

Durbin accused President Trump’s two attorneys general — Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsManchin flexes muscle in 50-50 Senate Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' Ocasio-Cortez targets Manchin over Haaland confirmation MORE and William Barr — of being primarily committed to advancing the interests of Trump, his family and political allies. 

As a result, Durbin said, the Justice Department “pursued policies of almost unimaginable harm to the American people,” citing the separation of migrant children from their parents at the border and the Muslim travel ban. 

“And so, Judge Garland, it’s no overstatement to say that your nomination is one of the most critical in the Department’s history,” Durbin said. 

The Illinois senator said Garland will also have a “unique responsibility to investigate the Jan. 6 attack.” 

“As the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, you will be tasked with the solemn duty to responsibly investigate the events of that day; to prosecute all of the individuals responsible; and to prevent future attacks driven by hate, inflammatory words, and bizarre conspiracy theories,” he said. 

Durbin noted that Garland led the investigation and prosecution of the 1994 Oklahoma City bombing and has strong experience to oversee the investigation into the attack on the Capitol. 

Alexander Bolton