However, Garland also seems to suggest that some of the issues Durham has already been tasked with exploring have already been adequately investigated by the Department of Justice Inspector General as part of a report. which revealed widespread errors and omissions in the FBI’s handling of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications.
“I really don’t know anything about the investigation,” Garland told Sen. Lindsey Graham (RS.C.). “I think someone should look at what happened with these FISAs, absolutely, and I think the Inspector General did.
When Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) asked Garland if he was familiar with the controversial and contested “dossier” that former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele produced on former President Trump ahead of the 2016 election , the judge replied: I read in the papers.
However, the summary of the Inspector General’s FISA abuse report – a document Garland claimed to have read moments earlier – contains over 140 references to Steele and repeatedly discusses the FBI’s handling of the Steele’s so-called Trump dossier.
In response to another question from Grassley, Garland said he had not had any discussions with Biden about the ongoing investigation into the tax issues related to Hunter Biden.
“I didn’t do it,” Garland said. “The President made it clear in every public statement before and after my appointment that decisions regarding investigations and prosecutions would be left to the Department of Justice. That was the reason why I was ready to accept this position. So the answer to your question is no. “
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) Also probed the question of Garland’s independence, noting that Trump had claimed unlimited power to direct the decisions of the DOJ. Garland declined to say whether he agreed with Trump on this point, but said the issue would not matter much under Biden since the new president has promised to respect the department’s independence in matters of ‘application.
“It’s a difficult constitutional law question, but I don’t expect it to be a question for me,” the longtime former DC Circuit judge told jury members. “I don’t intend to be disturbed by anyone. I hope the Department of Justice will make its own decisions in this regard.
The Jan.6 uprising also dominated Garland’s confirmation hearing. If confirmed, Garland will oversee the DOJ’s investigation into the Capitol capture, which he described as a “heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy.”
Garland said he was not aware of the details of the ongoing investigation into the attack, but understood that the investigation was huge in scope. “I can assure you that this will be my first priority,” he said.
Garland appeared receptive to President Nancy Pelosi’s proposal for a commission authorized by Congress to investigate the events of January 6. However, he issued the Biden administration’s first public warning that such an effort would not undermine the DOJ’s ongoing investigation.
“The only thing I would ask, if confirmed, is to ensure that” any investigation by an independent commission “does not interfere with our ability to prosecute individuals and entities” linked to the insurgency, Garland said in response to a question from Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.). “This is a sensitive issue regarding the disclosure of transactions that are still ongoing.”
Garland’s confirmation hearing for the attorney general comes more than six weeks after Biden’s appointment was announced. His hearing was in part delayed due to negotiations between Senate leaders over an organizing resolution to rule the evenly divided chamber. During the first weeks of the 117th Congress, Graham was technically still chairman of the Judicial Committee.
Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Who now chairs the committee, had asked Graham to hold the Garland hearing on February 8, but the South Carolina Republican refused to do so. Durbin and Grassley, however, struck a deal to hold a two-day Garland confirmation hearing on Monday and Tuesday. According to the current schedule, the Garland committee vote will take place on March 1.
Garland, the former chief justice of the powerful DC Circuit Court of Appeals, was appointed by then-President Barack Obama to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat in 2016. Senate Republicans then blocked his nomination, but Garland should receive broad bipartisanship. support for his appointment to the post of Attorney General.
Cornyn, a member of the Judiciary Committee and close adviser to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Has previously indicated he will vote for Garland. Grassley described Garland as a “good fit” for the job, while Graham said he was “very inclined” to support him.
During his confirmation hearing, Garland highlighted his background in law enforcement. Prior to becoming a federal judge, Garland worked in the Department of Justice and helped oversee the criminal investigation into the Oklahoma City bombings in 1995.
Garland would take over from a DOJ still reeling from four tumultuous years under Trump, who broke decades of precedent by frequently criticizing department heads in public and attacking the decisions of prosecutors and FBI agents.
“Public confidence in the Justice Department has been shaken – the result of four years of ministerial leadership dedicated to advancing the personal and political interests of one man – Donald Trump,” Durbin said in his speech to ‘opening.
Trump focused most of his anger on those involved in former special advocate Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged links between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia. But the former president has also made it clear that he expects the department to target political enemies, such as former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s relationship with his first attorney general, former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Deteriorated early on following Sessions’ challenge in the Trump-Russia inquiry, which helped open the way to the appointment of Mueller. Sessions resigned under pressure in November 2018.
Trump’s second attorney general, William Barr, had a better relationship with the president for some time. However, in February 2020, Barr was irritated by Trump’s public questioning of the department’s decisions and his comments on the pending lawsuits.
Trump’s barrage of criticism of the DOJ culminated in his consideration in December of a plan to replace the acting attorney general in order to get the ministry to further his efforts to have the Georgian legislature overturn the victory of Biden in that state in the November presidential election.
During the confrontation, first reported by The New York Times, much of the department’s leadership threatened to resign en masse. Trump finally gave up on the idea of challenging Georgia’s results.