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Garland vows sharp focus on Capitol riot, extremism as attorney general

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23.02.2021

WASHINGTON (AP) — Merrick Garland, US President Joe Biden’s attorney general nominee, vowed Monday to prioritize combating extremist violence with an initial focus on the insurrection at the US Capitol as he sought to assure lawmakers that the Justice Department would remain politically independent on his watch.

A federal appeals court judge who was snubbed by Republicans for a seat on the Supreme Court in 2016, Garland is now among Biden’s most widely supported nominees, putting him on track for a quick confirmation potentially within days. He will inherit a Justice Department that endured a tumultuous era under former president Donald Trump — rife with political drama and controversial decisions — and that faced abundant criticism from Democrats over what they saw as the politicizing of the nation’s top law enforcement agencies.

Garland sought repeatedly Monday to assure members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that he would stay above the fray of politics. He emphasized that he had never spoken to Biden about the federal tax investigation into his son, Hunter Biden, and pledged to resign as attorney general if needed to stand up to the White House — though he said he didn’t expect that would be necessary “with this president.”

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“I have grown pretty immune to any kind of pressure, other than the pressure to do what I think is the right thing, given the facts and the law. That is what I intend to do as the attorney general,” Garland said. “I don’t care who pressures me in whatever direction.”

The positive reception for Garland illustrated that senators are ready to move forward after his name became synonymous with a bitter, four year partisan battle over Supreme Court nominations during the Trump presidency. But while praising Garland for his record and his temperament, Republicans who denied Garland a seat on the high court made clear that they will not give him a free pass if he is confirmed as attorney general.

“I just want to say I like you, I respect you, and I think you are a good pick for this job,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top........

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