tv Attorney General Nominee Merrick Garland Testifies at Confirmation Hearing CSPAN February 22, 2021 4:17pm-5:31pm EST
america's leading epidemiologists talks about the road ahead in dealing with the coronavirus. >> we have a very long road ahead. i can say without any doubt at this point expect more curveballs to get thrown at us. if we had this interview 10 weeks ago, we would not have been talking about variants the way we are now. look at where we are at now talking about the severe challenges they present. i would expect the unexpected. there is much we can do. at this point, this is not going to be over with anytime soon. >> find c-span's the weekly where you get your podcast. >> judge merrick garland has served on the u.s. court of appeals for the deceased since 1997. he has been made by president biden to be attorney general. next up, we will show you today's hearing beginning with
the opening statements. the committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of judge merrick farland to be 86th attorney general. i want to welcome you and your family back to the senate judiciary committee. i know this return trip has been a long time in planning and you are here finally. this will be the committee's first hearing of the 117th congress. before i turned to my opening remarks, i would like to make some acknowledgments. i want to welcome my friend, senator chuck grassley, as the ranking member. when i first came on the committee 24 years ago, i was the ranking member on a subcommittee with you and we dealt with the issue of bankruptcy. we would sit next to each other. we have our differences, but senator grassley and i have worked together on important legislation over the years, most
recently on criminal justice and sentencing reform. i look forward to continuing network. i want to recognize the outgoing chair and ranking member, center lindsey graham -- senator lindsey graham, who will join us remotely, and senator dianne feinstein. senator graham, while we do not always agree, has always been a welcome partner, including on immigration. senator feinstein i want to commit for leading the committee democrats with grace and resolve over the past four years. i know she will continue to be an important voice on this committee on a host of issues, including in her new capacity as the chair of human rights -- of the human rights subcommittee, which i was proud to chair in past congresses. i would also like to welcome our new members, one in person and one remote, senator padilla and senator ossoff on the democratic side, and senator cotton on the
republican side. there are some historic firsts on the committee this year. senator padilla, our new senator from california, will chair the subcommittee on immigration, citizenship and border safety. i am honored he is the first latino senator to the chair that subcommittee. senator cory booker of new jersey will chair the subcommittee on criminal justice and counterterrorism. he is the first black senator to chair a judiciary subcommittee and we cannot imagine a better choice at the helm. to all our other members returning, welcome back. i want to welcome -- thank all the members for holding this hearing and vote on judge garland's nomination. it is an honor to serve on this committee. the senate established it by resolution on december 10, 1816, making it among the first
standing committees of the senate. it has seen many consequential debates and approved many important nominations and landmark legislation. in the committee's history, there has only then one prior illinois senator to chair, lyman trumbull, who headed the committee from 1861 to 1872. he was a democrat, republican, radical republican, the most bipartisan senator you could imagine. his tenure was distinguished by passage of historic legislation, the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments, the freedmen's bureau act, the civil rights act of 1866. the last of these was introduced by trumbull and became the nation's first civil rights law. as chairman trumbull saw a nation torn apart by slavery and violence and injustice that
continued even after the 13th amendment's passage, as africans americans throughout the nation faced racism, our nation is still dealing with these consequences. we are still working to rid this nation of the horrific legacy of slavery and jim crow. this committee can make a difference. we have the jurisdiction and opportunity to do it through legislation, oversight and nominations, including this nomination of merrick garland to serve as our next attorney general. there have been few moments in history where the role of attorney general and the occupant of that post has mattered more. should you be confirmed, and i have every confidence you will, you will oversee a justice department at an existential moment after four tumultuous years of intrigue, controversy and brute political force. the future of the department is in the hands of the next attorney general.
under attorney general sessions and bill barr, the justice department became an arm of the white house, committed to the interests of president trump. it came as little surprise that the u.s. department of justice became the trump apartment of justice. general barr stated clearly that he believed the ag was the president's lawyer, not the nation's. the results? too many cast aside the rule of law. trump appointees sidelined career public servants. limited roles, disregarded their input, overrode their judgment, and falsely accuse them of being members of the deep state. the department pursued policies of almost unimaginable proportions, from separating thousands -- thousands -- of innocent migrant children from their parents to banning innocent muslims from traveling to our shores, from defending
and even ordering violent crackdowns on peaceful protesters to parroting baseless lies about voter fraud in the lead up to the 2020 election. the misdeeds of the trump justice department brought this nation to the brink. as we have learned come after president biden's inauguration, the senior official in the trump justice department, jeffrey clark, plotted with president trump for one final stab at the results of the 2020 election. they were thwarted at the last minute by justice department attorneys who threatened to resign en mass rather than joint. it is no overstatement to say your nomination is one of the most critical in department history. when i reflect on it, i am reminded of two previous attorneys general, when democratic, the other republican, robert kennedy and edward leavy.
kennedy entered the office at a time of political turmoil. he recognized that equal rights and equal justice under the law were still in aspiration for too many people of color in the u.s. in june of 1963, kennedy justified -- testified before the judiciary committee of the house. he said "the demonstrations of the past few months have only served to point up with thinking americans have known for years, that this country can no longer abide the moral outrage of racial discrimination." he continued "if we fail to act at this crucial point, the ugly forces of disorder and violence will rise and multiply throughout the land, and grave doubts will be thrown on the very premise of american democracy." the moral outrage of racial discrimination remains with us today, as do the forces of disorder and violence, and,
tragically, the justice department in the previous administration fanned the flames of discrimination, but a restored justice department can, and i believe will, meet the moment. there are great challenges ahead. the right to vote is under constant assault by those who wish to suppress the voices of communities of color. we have a criminal justice system still in urgent need of reform and too many americans, whether because of race, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity, face inequality. it is time for the department of justice to confront these realities that continue to threaten, as robert kennedy said, the very premise of american democracy. i think of what you face in restoring the integrity of the justice department. i also think of another of your predecessors and fellow chicagoan, edward leavy, who also assumed office at a time of
turmoil. he had been president of the university of chicago before his nomination to serve as attorney general for president ford, and when he became -- when he came before this committee for his confirmation, he was asked about removing the justice department from the ambit of partisan politics. this is what he said. "i do not believe the administration of justice should be a partisan matter in any sense, but i do not think cases should be brought to reward people or punish them for partisan reasons." he continues "i think it would be a bad thing for the country to believe the administration of justice was not evenhanded because it was in some ways tilted bipartisan politics." why was this question asked? why was his response so important? just two years earlier, president nixon attempted to use the justice department as his personal law firm, ordering elliot richardson to fire
archibald cox, who was overseeing watergate. he refused, as did his deputy, and so each of them were fired in what became known as the saturday night massacre. they refused to act in a way contrary to the law. they refused to put partisan politics and the interests of president nixon above fidelity to the constitution and the principle of equal justice for all, even those who occupy the white house. in the wake of nixon's action, the justice department faced a reckoning, with the department's legacy still tarnished and public confidence shaken, gerald ford turned to edward leavy to restore independence. the nation looks to you to do the same. the result of department leadership consumed with advancing personal and put a call interests. -- and political interests. had a not been for several
attorneys threatening to resign -- had it not been for several attorneys threatening to resign this january, president trump may have done more than he did to overturn the election results, raising questions you must reckon with. we are confident we can rebuild the department, that you can restore the faith of the american people and the rule of law and equal justice. i want to return to the attempt to overturn the election. you probably noticed when you came to capitol hill how it has changed. you lived most of your life, and i have lived a large part of mine, coming to this capitol hill to visit, to work, really to honor the traditions of these buildings. we have now established a perimeter around this building. it stretches for blocks in every direction. a 10 foot high fence that walls off this capitol building from the rest of america. at the top of the fence, barbed
wire. inside the fence, we have not only our loyal police force, many women of the national guard, thousands of them -- force, men and women of the national guard, thousands of them, commentary on the current state of america we face today, but it is needed. you were here on january 6. -- we were here on january 6. we live through it. -- lived through it. luckily, we were not in direct contact with the mob. others were. before a single vote had been cast, president trump claimed he could only lose as a result of fraud.far too many americans gave credence to these claims. we know the result. we saw the attempt to subvert democracy, culminating in the events of january 6, when an armed mob stormed the capitol,
violently targeted congress, our colleagues, families, even the vice president, causing the senseless deaths of capitol police officers brian sicknick and goode, and jeffrey smith. you will be in the unique position with a unique kazakh -- you will be in a unique position with a unique responsibility. you will be tasked to investigate the events of that day, prosecute all the individuals responsible, and prevent future attacks promoted -- prompted by hate, inflammatory words and conspiracy theories. you have seen domestic terrorism. you lead the investigation and prosecution of the oklahoma city bombing and made the nation safer in doing so and it brought
some measure of peace and healing to the victims and their families. i am confident that you are up to the task the department now faces in the wake of january 6. i can if people better suited. i look forward to your testimony, but at this point, i turn it over to my colleague, senator grassley. sen. grassley: thank you. i welcome judge garland. i welcome the public at large, most of them very remote, not the large crowds we normally have when we have an attorney general nominee before this committee. i have a longer statement that i will put in the record, and i still have plenty to say even this morning. i have course congratulate senator durbin on his new role as chairman. he has already referred to he
and i getting acquainted on the oversight subcommittee and working on what now is badly needed law. agriculture is in bad shape. bypassing chapter 12 -- by passing chapter 12 agricultural bankruptcy legislation. i want to express my admiration for senator feinstein, the previous democrat leader of this committee. she and i have worked closely together during the years that i chaired and she was breaking number, and i thank you -- and she was ranking member, and i thank you for your leadership. also a about judge garland. this is judge garland's first time appearing before this committee since ascending to the federal bench. i had something to do with that after the death of justice scalia, my republican colleagues
and i decided not to hold a hearing on his nomination. in other words, meaning judge garland's nomination to the supreme court, having been nominated by president obama. as you recall, it was an election year with a divided congress. the position i took was consistent with previously publicly expressed positions by other senators and democratic senators previous to that. so, yes, it is true that i did not give judge garland a hearing. i also did not mischaracterize his record. i did not attack his character. i did not go through his high school yearbook. i did not make his wife leave the hearing in tears. i took a position on hearings and i stuck to it and that's it. i admire george garland's public service. just because i disagreed with
anyone being nominated didn't mean that i had to be disagreeable to that nominee. unfortunately, that's not always the way it works in this town that has great political division. judge garland is here and we are here to talk about his nomination to be attorney general, and i extend a warm welcome to you, judge garland, and your family and friends that are probably very honored because of your nomination. this of course is a worthy capstone on a storied career that you have had. judge garland is a good pick to lead the department of justice. he has decades of experience as one of the most respected appellate judges in the country and, before that, being a great prosecutor. when the domestic terrorist timothy mcveigh was executed for his crimes, we had merrick
garland to thank for that successful prosecution. no one doubts that judge garland is qualified for his job, but, of course, attorney general is more than just qualifications. the top law enforcement officer of the united states must be committed to enforcing the rule of law, as our former colleague and former attorney general john ashcroft likes to say, the department of justice is the only cabinet agency whose name is an ideal. it is not the department of law enforcement, but the department of justice. justice is equality under the law. there's one law for all americans regardless of race, color, creed, or connection. is judge garland up to that task?
i think he is, but today, our goal is to ask him questions to find out. the department of justice has taken important steps to live up to these ideals expressed by attorney general ashcroft and i think they have done well in that direction, particularly over the last four years. the department has undertaken many successful initiatives to reduce violent crime in all communities and has sought to maintain the rule of law by reforming consent decrees, guidance documents, protected our civil liberties, particularly our religious liberties, and pursuing elder justice. i hope the department of justice continues these initiatives under you, judge garland. what i do not want is a return to the obama years. i do not want in attorney
general who brags about being a wing man -- and those are his words -- to the president. that was eric holder notoriously describing himself. i do not want a justice department that abuses process to spy on american citizens. i do not want consent decrees that federalize law enforcement and caused murder rates to soar. i do not want to return to catch and release on the border. i could come up with many other examples. unfortunately, a lot of what we have seen so far from the justice department is -- they have whiplashed in inducing changes. they are going through excessive memoranda throughout the gate. president biden is reportedly even firing nearly every senate
confirmed u.s. attorney regardless of what investigations they are supervising. that is troubling. that is why i am especially concerned about the term investigation regarding january 2017. i began an investigation into how the justice department and fbi handled crossfire hurricane. that was its investigation into the trump campaign and administration. simply said, crossfire hurricane is a textbook example of what should not happen during investigations. what the obama administration did to the trump campaign transition -- campaign, transition and administration cannot ever happen again. if confirmed, you will have oversight of special review of crossfire hurricane. when bill barr came before the committee for his nomination hearing, he said "it is vitally important that the special counsel be allowed to
complete his investigation." of course he was then referring to special counsel bob mueller's investigation. you will need to be clear what your position will be with respect to special counsel durham. we expect the same commitment from you to protect durham as we did from bar to protect mueller. -- from barr to protect mueller. i like you, respect you, and think you are a good thank you . chairman and members of the judiciary committee. i am honored to appear before you today as the presidents nominee to be the attorney general. i would like, first, to take this opportunity to introduce you to my wife, my daughters, jesse and becky, and my son-in-law. i am grateful to them, my entire extended family that is watching today on c-span, every day of my
life. the president nominates the attorney general to be the lawyer, not for any individual, but for the people of the united states. july 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of the department of justice, making this a fitting time to remember the mission of the attorney general and of the department. 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 law. it is a fitting time to recognize the more than 115 thousand career employees of the department as law enforcement agencies and their commitment to serve the cause of justice and protect the safety of our communities. if i am confirmed as attorney general, it will be the culmination of a career that i
have dedicated to ensuring that the laws of our country are fairly and faithfully enforced and the rights of all americans are protected. before i became a judge almost 24 years ago, a significant portion of my professional life was spent in the justice department. as a special assistant to ben, the last of the trio of's watergate -- of post-watergate attorneys general, as a supervisor in the criminal division and as a senior official in the department. many of the policies of the justice department developed during those years as a foundation or reaffirming the nerves -- norms that will ensure the department adheres to the rule of law. these are policies that protect the independence of the department from partisan influence of law enforcement, that strictly regulate communications with the white house, that established guidelines for fbi domestic
operations and foreign intelligence correction and ensure respectful treatment of the press that read the freedom of information act generously. that respect the professionalism of doj employees and that set out the principles of federal prosecution to guide the exercise of prosecutorial discretion. in conversations that i have had with many of you before this hearing, you have asked why i would agree to leave a lifetime appointment as the judge. i have told you i love being a judge. i have also told you that this is an important moment for me to step forward, because of my deep respect for the department of justice and for its critical role of ensuring the rule of law. celebrating doj's 150th year reminds us of the origins of the department, which was founded during reconstruction, in the
aftermath of the civil war, to secure the civil rights that were promised in the 14th, 14th and 15th amendments. the first attorney general appointed by president grant to head the new department let it in a concerted battle to protect like voting rights. -- voting rights from the violence of white extremists, successfully prostituting hundreds of cases against white supremacist members -- prosecuting hundreds of cases against white supremacist members of the ku klux klan. with the mission to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all americans, particularly some of the most vulnerable numbers of -- members of our society. that mission, on the website of the department's civil rights division, remains urgent, because we do not yet have equal justice. communities of color and other
minorities still face discrimination and housing -- in housing of education -- housing, education and in the justice system. they bear the brunt of the harm caused by the pandemic, pollution and climate change. 150 years after the department's founding, battling extremist attacks on our democratic institutions also remains central to the departments mission. from 1995 to 1997, i supervised a prosecution of the perpetrators of the oklahoma city federal building, who sought to spark a revolution that would topple the federal government. if confirmed, i will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the capitol on january 6, a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy.
the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government. that critical work has brought a part -- is but a part of the broad scope of responsibilities. from fraud and corruption, from violent crime and cybercrime, from drug trafficking and child exploitation, and it must do all of this without ever taking its eye off of the risk of another devastating attack by foreign terrorists. the attorney general takes an oath to support and defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies. foreign and domestic. i am mindful of the tremendous responsibility that comes with this role. as attorney general, later supreme court justice robert
jackson said the prosecutor has more control over life, liberty and reputation than any other person in america. while prosecutors at their best are one of the most beneficent forces in our society, when they act for malice, they are one of the worst. jackson went on to say that citizens safety lies in the prosecutor who seeks truth and not victims. who serves the law and not factional purposes and who approaches the task with humility. that was the prosecutor i tried to be during my private -- prior service in the department of justice. that is the spirit i tried to bring to my tenure as a federal judge. if confirmed, i promise to do my
best to live upngng. at this point, we will turn to questions. you were sent to okemos city in 1995 -- oklahoma city in 19i-5. what happened there was the deadliest act of homegrown domestic terrorism in modern american history. hundreds were injured. you were supervising the prosecution of timothy mcveigh and terry nichols, who were accused of being complicit and fleeting in that destruction. now, if you are confirmed as attorney general, which i believe you will be, you will face what is known as the biggest and most complex in the -- investigation in justice department history. 230 have been arrested so far, some 500 are under
investigation. we know the death of at least one police officer is one of the major elements in this investigation. i would like to ask you to reflect on two things. what is going on in america, was oklahoma city a one-off unrelated to what happened here? can you major based on what you have learned so far what kind of forces are out to destroy the american dream? secondly, when it comes to the prosecution, are there elements we should consider in terms of law enforcement to deal with this rising threat to the american democracy? judge garland: thank you, senator. thank you for the opportunity to address the committee today. i am grateful for this opportunity. i don't think this is necessarily a one-off. fbi director ray has directed --
communicative the threat of the mystic terrorism and particularly of white supremacist extremists is the number one concern in this area. this is coupled with the in norma's rise in hate crimes over the past few years. -- enormous rise in hate crimes over the past few years. there is a line for okemos city all the way back to the experiences i mentioned in my opening with respect to the battles of the justice department against the ku klux klan. we must do everything in the power of the justice department to prevent this kind of interference with the policies of american democratic institutions. and i plan, if you confirm me for attorney general, to do everything in my power to ensure that we are protected. sen. durbin: judge garland, it goes without saying, but we want to make it on the record, we had
-- have violence whether it comes from the right or the left, whatever the source, it has no place in the constitutional dialogue of america. currently, we are faced with elements that were not there 25 years ago in oklahoma city. a proliferation of weapons, secondly, social media and the internet, which serves as a gathering place for many of these to mystic terrorists. what are your thoughts about how we should you with those elements from a law enforcement viewpoint? judge garland: well, mr. chairman, i certainly agree that we are facing a more dangerous period than we have faced at that time. from what i have seen, and i know inside information about how the department is developing its work, it looks like an extremely aggressive and perfectly appropriate beginning to an investigation. across the country, in the same
way our original oklahoma city investigation was. but many times more. i don't know yet what additional resources would be required by the department. i can assure you that this would be my first priority and my first briefing when i returned to the department if i am confirmed. sen. durbin: judge garland, several years ago, i went to an immigration court hearing in downtown chicago. it was in a high-rise old and. i met the -- loop building. i met the judge. she had been on the job almost 20 years. she seemed like a conscientious, fair person. the first clients on the docket were a four-year-old girl named marta. when the judge asked all of the people in the courtroom be seated, she had to be helped into a chair that was too tall
for her to get into. she was handed a stuffed animal to hold for the hearing and at the same table was a young boy with the unlikely name, hamilton. who was given a matchbox car which he played with on top of the table. he was six years old. they were the victims of the zero-tolerance policy. we remember it well. thousands of children were forcibly removed from their parents, separated and, many times, lost in the bureaucracy. some have incorrectly stated that that policy of the trump administration was a continuation of an obama era policy. that is not true. the obama administration did not have policies that resulted in the mass separation of parents and children. on rare occasions, separations -- on the rare occasions separations occurred, it was
because of suspect of trafficking. the general conducted an investigation of the zero-tolerance policy and noted the justice department was the driving force in that policy. there is still a lot that we do not know about that policy and the accountability for the officials who were responsible for it. let me ask you this. this committee will hold oversight hearings to get to the bottom of it. when you commit to cooperate with those investigations -- will you commit to cooperate with those investigations? judge garland: the oversight responsibility of this committee is one of its very most important things. it is a duty posed by the constitution and i greatly respect it. i think the policy was shameful. i can't imagine anything worse than separating parents from their children. and we will provide all of the cooperation that we possibly can. sen. durbin: i thank you for that. when it comes to congressional
oversight, this committee has a role in restoring independence of integrity to the justice department through oversight hearings. it has a standard of holding annual justice department oversight hearings. sadly, it has been three years since the attorney general has been called before this committee. i pledge that as chairman i will hold annual doj oversight hearings where members from both sides of the aisle can ask important questions of you in that capacity. i don't want to go into detail but ask you would you agree to cooperate in that commit to an oversight -- commitment to an oversight hearing? judge garland: of course. i will cooperate. sen. durbin: when requests are made for information, i hope i can have your commitment to cooperation in providing timely answers. judge garland: yes, mr. chairman. we will be as responsive as we possibly can. as i said, i have great respect
for and belief in the oversight role of this committee. sen. durbin: thank you. senator grassley? senator grassley: since you are currently a sitting judge bound by the code of conduct of u.s. judges i hope we can get frank answers from you on your views. when we talked last on the phone, you told me you would give guidance -- get guidance from the administering office on what you can and can't say. i assume you sought that guidance. if so, what did they advise you? judge garland: yes, senator grassley, i did. they advised me adjust as you and i thought they would, it bars me from commenting on any impending case that is in any court or any pending case per but i am free to talk about policy -- pending case.
but i am free to talk about policy. sen. grassley: i will go to the durham investigation. at bars hearing, he stated the following to the mueller investigation. it is important the special counsel be allowed to complete its investigation. also of that same hearing, senator feinstein asked will you commit to providing mr. mueller with the resources, funds and time needed to complete his investigation? attorney general barr answered senator feinstein with a one-word "yes." with respect to the special counsel durham's investigation, i expect he will be allowed to complete his investigation. if confirmed, will you commit to providing special counsel durham with the staff resources, funds and time needed to complete the investigation? judge garland: senator, i don't
have any information about the investigation. as i sit here today, another one of the first things i will have to do is speak with mr. durham to figure out how his investigation is going. i understand he has been permitted to remain in his position. sitting here today, i have no reason to think that that was not the correct decision. sen. grassley: and i suppose that would be an answer that would only be removed for cause. would that be your position? judge garland: i really do have to have an opportunity to talk with him. i have not had that opportunity. as i said, i don't have any reason from what i know now, which is really very little, to make any determination on that ground. i don't have any reason to think that he should not remain in place. sen. grassley: if confirmed, would you commit to publicly releasing special counsel
durham's report just like the robert mueller report was made public? judge garland: senator, i am a great believer in transparency. i would have to talk with mr. durham and understand the nature of what he has been doing and the nature of the report. but i am very much committed to transparency and to explaining justice department decision-making. sen. grassley: at this point, i will not take exception to the answers you have gave me about durham, because i think you are an honorable person. they are not quite as explicit as i hoped they would be like we got from attorney general barr from the mueller investigation. but i think you have come close to satisfying me. but maybe not entirely. we are in the midst of a drug crisis, in addition to opioids,
cocaine and fentanyl, fentanyl is plaguing our country. increasingly sophisticated drug trafficking organizations, both domestically and internationally tried to strip the law by changing their molecular structure. the center for disease control has found that drug overdose deaths rose to their highest level ever during the pandemic, with the overall jump in deaths being driven most substantially drug like fentanyl. we must stop this fentanyl substance from entering our neighborhoods and killing thousands of americans. my question is, as you leave the justice department, having oversight over the drug enforcement administration within that department and they will be addressing the spread of fentanyl analogs and related substances by pushing for
continued probation of fentanyl. i did not make my question clear. would you lead the justice department in pushing for continued classwide prohibition of fentanyl dialogues? judge garland: senator, i am familiar with this problem. one of my roles was to serve on the pretrial services committee for the -- committee for the pretrial services agency for the district. we were constantly advised of the fact that the formula was being slightly changed, constantly. this was a problem both for detection as well as for the problem of enforcement. to be honest, i am no chemist. it is one of the reasons i ended up being a lawyer instead of a doctor. but, i would need to look at
what would be proposed. but i do understand the scope of this problem and i am in favor of doing something, either by scheduling or by legislation, if i am confirmed, that would address the problem that you are talking about, which is an enormous problem for enforcement. sen. grassley: i want to go to the death penalty because we have some people already prosecuting where the death penalty has been advocated or sought. one of those were the people involved in the boston marathon. so, the question -- the justice department, again, under the obama administration sought and received an appropriate sentence of death. that sentence is currently being appealed. will you commit to defend these sentences on appeal? judge garland: senator, now we
are rubbing up against the exact problem you asked me about in the beginning. these are pending cases. as a sitting judge, i am barred from making comment on impending cases. sen. grassley: my last question will have to deal with the investigation that is underway by some of us in congress about hunter biden. have you discussed the case with the president or anyone else? and i don't expect you to discuss your private conversation with the president. but members of this committee always ask judges or other people did you discuss with the president, for instance, your
position on abortion. have you discussed this hunter biden case with the president or anyone else? judge garland: i have not. the president made abundantly clear in every public statement before and after it might nomination that the decisions about investigations and prosecutions will be left to the justice department. that was the reason that i was willing to take on this job. senator whitehouse: welcome, judge garland. judge garland: thank you. senator whitehouse: people have said it is not the legislature's business to metal around in a prosecution. at the same time, we have oversight responsibilities. in your opinion, was it appropriate for congress to ask the doj to give an honest look at investigative matters? judge garland: senator, i know
of your lung experiences as a prosecutor, including some of it which overlapped mine. i have been respectful and appreciative of it. you ask it that way, it is always possible for anyone to ask about matters like this. the department has to be very careful with respect to the congress and, in the same way, it has to be careful with respect to the white house, that no investigations get started just for partisan -- and i am not suggesting that is what you're asking -- but we have to be careful about this. sen. whitehouse: after the fact, once the investigation has closed or concluded, is it appropriate in the exercise of our oversight to ensure an honest look was taken? judge garland: yes, of course it is. there are obviously limitations of the departments ability to speak. that includes everything from grand juries -- sen. whitehouse: understood.
with respect to january 6, i would like to make sure that you are willing to look upstream from the actual occupants who assaulted the building in the same way that in a drug case you would look upstream from the street dealers to try to find the kingpins and that you will not rule out investigation of funders, organizers, ringleaders or aiders and abettors who were not present in the capitol on january 6. judge garland: that is a fair question. your law enforcement experience is the same as mine. i began as an assistant u.s. attorney. we begin with people on the ground and work our way up to those who are involved and further involved.
we will pursue these leads wherever they take us. sen. whitehouse: thank you. as chairman durbin mentioned, there have been widely reported problems within the department over the last four years. judge sullivan has one stunning reproach of the departments judicial decisions out of the d.c. district court and the southern district strict court, that have been pretty damming. press reports have raised concerns about problems within the department during that period. how do you plan to assess the damage that the departments sustained so you can go forward with a clear understanding of what needs repair? judge garland: senator, i am a strong believer in following the processes of the department. that was my experience, all of my experiences at the department, regardless of what
level, i served. the traditional process is for issues to be raised before either the inspector general or the officer responsible in the areas you are talking about, that they conduct investigations. they certainly seemed extremely able of conducting thorough investigations. they collect recommendations. that would be the normal procedures and i would expect that if i am confirmed, those would be the kind of procedures i would want to follow. sen. whitehouse: i would submit to you that you may want to take it on more systematically than that but we can leave that for a later date. on this committee, particularly this side of this committee, we have experienced more or less a four year stonewall of information from the department of justice and from the fbi. from 2017 to 2020, we had 25 doj and fbi witnesses who failed to answer some or all of the questions for the record that
senator sasse them. 21 answered -- senators asked them. 21 answered none of the questions asked from either side. i have sent 28 different letters on various subjects that went completely unanswered. it got so bad that chairman graham brought the deputy attorney general and made me go through the list and tried to figure out why the hell we were getting answers and where the policy came from, the de facto policy of refusing to answer questions of senators. i think we need to understand what happened during that period, why these questions were not being answered. the point of entry is quiet were these questions not being answered. upon whose instructions were these questions not being answered? why? what was the motive for refusing to answer these questions?
once we have cleared that up, i think we have to go through the backlog of questions the department refused to answer. as you know, sometimes, congress asks questions that are touchy for a department. somebody may have misbehaved. there may be wrongful conduct that has taken place. and i hope you will agree that covering up misconduct is never an acceptable reason for refusing to answer questions of congress. judge garland: i certainly agree that covering up anything is never an appropriate reason for not answering a question of congress. there will be no policy, the factor or otherwise, if i am confirmed, that would direct the department to not be responsive to this committee and to its members. i want the department i lead to be as responsive as possible. and, at the very least, to explain why it can't answer a
question or can't answer a letter, why you can't. that is the minimum you are entitled to. sen. whitehouse: correct. i don't want this just going forward, i want to get answers to the backlog questions that were wrongfully refused. would you help us make sure that that happens? judge garland: yes, senator. we talked in our conversation before. i would evidently direct the previous -- would definitely direct the previous questions be answered. as a matter of resource and priority allocations, i request you give us, the departments, some sense of the priorities of what still needs to be answered and perhaps even in what order. sen. whitehouse: we will do that. last, i have a few seconds left. i would like two things. i think that the office of the legal counsel has taken a lot of hits. from the torture memos to the
wiretap memos to the southern district decision to the d.c. court decision to extremely self-serving and self propagating presidential investigations, this is a part of the department that i think is in real trouble. another role of the departments is the policing and the intermediation of executive privilege for an administration. i think that is an area that has been in complete collapse. i look forward, with my time expired, -- judge garland: thank you, senator. i look forward to speaking with you. >> welcome judge, i enjoyed our conversation the other day. judge garland: thank you. >> my soul criterion for voting for your confirmation is your pledge to make sure that
politics does not effect your job as attorney general. and i believe you told me that you could make that commitment. is that a commitment you can make before the public today? judge garland: absolutely. i would not have taken this job if i thought politics would have any influence over prosecutions and investigations. i want to clarify so as to not disappoint you. with respect to policies of the administration, which i assume are driven by politics, although as a judge, i would not know for sure. i strive to advance the policies of the department as long as they are consistent with the law and our evaluation of the law has to be based only on the law and not politics. sen. cornyn: thank you for that clarification. i think the attorney general has to be the toughest job in the united states government, because you serve at the pleasure of the president but
you also have, as you appropriately pointed out, an obligation to equal justice and impartial enforcement of the law. if you are asked to do something that you considered to be in violation of the law or unethical, would you resign? judge garland: the first thing i would do is to tell the president or whoever else i was being -- whoever else was asking me to do that that it was unlawful. i do not expect this to happen with this president, who has made it clear publicly and in private that he will not do that. , of course, if i am asked to do something and an alternative is not accepted, i would resign, yes. sen. cornyn: i think one of the biggest problems that the administration of justices had in the united states, particularly for the last couple of presidencies, has been the perception that there is a double standard.
one that applies to maybe one political party or people with wealth and another one that applies to the opposing political party or people who don't have the resources to defend themselves against the awesome investigative and prosecutorial powers of the department of justice. of course, you are acquainted with the phrase about the supreme court, equal justice under the law. you agree with me that a perception of a double standard of justice can be a cancer that will -- and that commitment to equal justice? -- eat away at the confidence? judge garland: absolutely. his role was to be sure that justice was made out fairly and
impartially without any special favors for anyone. this is the definition, in my view, of the rule of law. that the powerful and the powerless, one party and another party, one community in the united states and another community in the united states all are treated equally in the administration of justice. the chairman's -- sen. cornyn: the chairman's recitation of things he believed to be inappropriate started and ended with the trump administration. let me take you back further into the biden and obama administration. you are familiar with the press conference of -- that james comey had in july of 2016 when he discussed the investigation of hillary clinton and the inappropriate use of her email server? judge garland: i remember a. sen. cornyn: -- judge garland: i remember it. sen. cornyn: is that an
appropriate step for an fbi director to take talk about derogatory information in a case they say no reasonable prosecutor would pursue it? judge garland: senator, i don't think it is useful for me to comment on specific manners involving specific former officials. i have no problem at all telling you that the justice department's policy has made clear that derogatory comments about subjects, targets, even people who have been indicted, except for what is in the indictment, are not appropriate. if i am confirmed, i will zealously attempt to re-inculcate that spare set -- spirit. when i was speaking to the press after each court hearing in oklahoma city, i was assiduous
in making sure i did not say anything about the defendants who had just been before the court and, we know after conviction, had done horrible things, that i would not say anything other than the charges that were brought against them. i believe that is part of a federal prosecution. sen. cornyn: i know you don't want to comment on mr. comey's actions but what you have said strikes me as diametrically opposed to what he actually did. senator graham asked you if you have read the horwitz report. i understand your time has been limited. would you pledge to read all 404 pages of that report if you are confirmed. judge garland: i will. it may take me some time but i have a head start by reading the executive summaries. i should be able to get through it. sen. cornyn: i think it is
important you do so, because of the abuse, not only of the process where an fbi lawyer lied to the court in order to get a warrant to spy on an american citizen, but the use of counterintelligence investigation, a counterintelligence investigation against a presidential candidate, and the run-up to the election. are you familiar with the steele dossier? judge garland: only what i have read in the newspapers. i have to admit i have only read conflicting reports about it in the papers. sen. cornyn: it revealed that the sources for the steele dossier, which were used in part to get pfizer warrants, that the sub sources could well be -- could well be russian intelligence officers, using that in order to get -- as part
of a russian active measures campaign. are you familiar with the practice of the soviet union and the russian federation to use active measures as part of their intelligence service tax against the united states? judge garland: so, not from my experience either as a judge or as a prosecutor. but, again, from reading media reports, i know what the words mean and i have a general idea of what you are about, yes. sen. cornyn: judge garland, my time is about up. i think we have talked about the role of the judiciary committee -- like section 702 of the foreign surveillance act and the importance of the competence those tools will be appropriately use and there will be appropriate oversight of the department of justice and the fbi and intelligence committees. do you believe that the abuse of those authorities never dies is
the availability of those tools in a way that is detrimental, potentially, to the security of the united states? judge garland: absolutely. my entire career as a justice department official is -- it is not only i am worried about losing a tool that is essential, it is that i am worried about transgressing the constitutional rights of americans. both of those are important. probably the latter is more important. we have to be careful about respecting constitutional rights. >> senator klobuchar. >> thank you mr. chairman, congratulations on your new job, and congratulations to you judge garland. i listened with much happiness in your opening remarks when you talked about being a lawyer for the people, that you want to
serve the law and not factual -- factional services. used the word "humble," that we need more of. you also mentioned that when president biden nominated you, ted leavy who taught law at university of chicago, that i took. like edward leavy, who took office after watergate, you will take on the department of justice at a critical time and will have the great chance of restoring its ideals of independence, fidelity to the constitution, and the law. what is the number one thing you want to do to boost morale in the department? day one -- judge garland: i will take an oath in which i will say all of the things you just said. i want to say something to the
career employees, my job is to protect them from partisan or other improper motives. i then hope to have the opportunity to visit with as many members of the justice department as possible. unfortunately, this will have to be over zoom. i would prefer to be able to go down to the great hall and mingle with folks, let them hear what is in my heart. but i'm afraid technology is the only way i am going to be able to do it. sen. klobuchar: one thing that barden -- bothered me was the partisan process former president trump overtook. 88% of the pardons he granted had some sort of personal political connection to the president. what do you think we need to do to restore integrity to the
pardon process? what do you think you can do from the attorney general's position? judge garland: you are right, this is a power granted from the constitution. the justice department's role is to created visualized examination of the people who are asking to be pardoned. the office has a set of very detailed regulations, which describe when people are appropriate for pardons and when they are not. it is an important screen that not only yields -- part of it also protects the president from improper influence. sen. klobuchar: just a few things i want to ask quickly because i want to get to antitrust. talked to senator graham about resources for domestic terrorism and that you want to take a look. do you think you will need additional authorities, or will you look at that when you get
in? i will be chairing a hearing with the rules committee on what happened at the capitol and what we need to do to improve security. part of that is prosecuting perpetrators. judge garland: i thank you for that question. always looking for new tools. the first thing we have to do is figure out whether the tools we have are sufficient. that will be part of this briefing i want to had. the laws are quite capable and we are capable of charges against mcveigh, nichols and other terrorists. whether i would be interested in speaking with you and the committee about whether additions may be made, i first have to know whether anything more is necessary. sen. klobuchar: will you commit to reinstating attorney general holder's guidelines requiring the -- to sign off on subpoenas to journalists? judge garland: these guidelines
came out originally when i was working for ben sublette a. this is something i am deeply committed to. they have improved over the years as more concerns have arisen. i would expect to re-up those guidelines. i do not believe they have been rescinded, though. sen. klobuchar: no, but i couldn't get a straight answer from attorneys general sessions or barr. i know you support reforms to police practices, very good. we have a major bill on that. conviction and integrity units, something i think is important. judge garland: i think convicting someone who did not commit the crime is one of the most -- it is a risk.
of all kinds of law enforcement. if we can determine that we have made a mistake, we need very much to correct it. i think grants for the purpose of supporting conviction integrity units in district and states attorneys office is a very good idea. sen. klobuchar: we share an interest in antitrust law. i know you handled cases as judge, chair on the antitrust subcommittee. we are going to be doing a lot in this area. two thirds of u.s. industries have become more concentrated between 1997 and 2012. the pandemic has actually made things even harder on small businesses. i think we need more resources. the ftc and antitrust division of the doj are shadows of what they were when the breakup of at&t occurred.
we can't expect agencies to do what we need to do to take on the biggest companies the world has ever known on the tech side, in addition to band-aids and duct tape. senator grassley and i have a bill to greatly increase the funding to those divisions and agencies. would you support that? judge garland: i appreciate your recognizing that my first love in law school was antitrust. i studied under one of the most famous scholars and was his research assistant. i worked with -- another one of the greatest scholars, former head of the chair of the federal trade commission. i did practice antitrust law including trying antitrust cases. i always want to be in the position of saying thank you, yes, when you ask whether we want more resources. my expectation is that is what i would say.
until i am confirmed, i can't evaluate what resources we might need. sen. klobuchar: do you commit to vigorously enforcing antitrust law? judge garland: absolutely. sen. klobuchar: i believe we need changes in order to aid you in doing that. i have a bill that i hope you will look at. changing some of the standards for mergers and for exclusionary conduct. i think that if anything has illustrated the need to look back at the cust holiday should have some of these industries, it would be the lawsuits filed by doj. for example, facebook's acquisition of instagram and whatsapp. i suggest you look at mark zuckerberg's email where he talked about purchasing nascent competitors. the answer to that has got to come from the justice department.
that this kind of exclusionary conduct is not the way capitalism works in america. we have always had a balance, we had a balance through republican and democratic presidents to say we believe in a capitalist system, and we have to keep rejuvenating it by allowing smaller competitors to emerge. that is not happening right now in many areas and i need your commitment you will take this area seriously. judge garland: i take it very seriously and have throughout my career. the supreme court has repeatedly referred to the antitrust laws a charter of american economic liberty and