tv Attorney General Nominee Merrick Garland Testifies at Confirmation Hearing... CSPAN February 23, 2021 12:25am-1:30am EST
>> the committee resumes and i will turn to the ranking member, senator grassley, for five minutes. sen. grassley: i will have my staff give you the binder of letters going back to the last two years of the trump administration that haven't been answered by the department, and also just a few letters of the reason, so i hope you'll do what you can to get those answers so six months from now i don't blame you with the fact that the trump people didn't answer. and then i'm going to say something about your answering
questions for us, and this goes back, now that i'm ranking member, i want to give you a quote that i sent to senator sessions when he was sitting where you are. and if senator feinstein contacts you, do not use this excuse, as so many people use, that you are not a chairman of a committee, you do not have to answer the questions. i want her questions answered just like you would answer mine. so hope that whether i'm ranking member or chairman of the committee, you will help me get answers to the questions and i hope senator durbin will do the same thing. judge garland: i will not use any excuse to not answer your question, senator. sen. grassley: thank you. and the other thing is, i don't want to dwell on durham, but several people have asked and you've given the same answer. and i understand why you get that answer, but would it be
impossible for you to have some sort of a briefing on durham between now and the time you get -- get written answers back, so you could give us a more definitive answer? judge garland: i don't think it's appropriate. i assume among other things that the durham investigation -- sen. grassley: i will except your answer. you don't need to go any further. now let's go to the subject of domestic terrorism. obviously in a democracy, we need to be able to disagree with each other without violence. clinical extremism, the willingness to use violence to advocate one's political views on either side is a threat to our democracy. the capital attack shows that very directly -- the capitol attack shows that very directly. i think you've answered this question, so just a very short answer. i think you've assured all of us
that the justice department has all the necessary resources to investigate and prosecute all cases connected to the attack on the united states capitol. judge garland: i can't yet say we've have -- we have all the resources. what i've said is i would look into the question, i just don't know. we certainly have authorities to look into it. whether we have the money and the personnel i just don't know yet. sen. grassley: likewise, in the previous year there have been numerous attacks, not only on other institutions of the government like the white house, the federal courthouse in portland, but on hundreds if not thousands of police officers who were injured as well as on fellow citizens and their businesses, particularly small businesses. the justice department opened over 300 domestic terrorism cases due to that violence and started an antigovernment extremism task force, so i hope you could commit absolutely as
you did for the capitol writers that you will see those investigations of the 2020 riots and continuing and people riots in the pacific -- continuing antifa riots in the northwest through to the end. judge garland: i think director ray said it exactly right, which is we investigate violence, we don't care about -- if there are investigations going on like those, then of course, they are going to continue. sen. grassley: taken off a little of what you refer to what the fbi said, former attorney general barr noted that the fbi, while it had robust programs for white supremacists him and militia extremism, like the similar infrastructure for anarchist extremist case.
former acting department of homeland security secretary wolf stated that this may have contributed to law enforcement being blindsided by the civil unrest that began in 2020, so i hope that i can get you to say that you would be willing to review your anarchist extremism program for weaknesses and fixing those weaknesses based upon what barr said and the fbi said, that they had better programs to go after white supremacy than they did other anarchist extremism. judge garland: i think we need to go after violence whenever -- whatever direction, left, right, up, down, it doesn't make any difference, we have to go after that. i think what director ray had said to him what he was most concerned about was the rise of white supremacist extremism as
an element of domestic terrorism. but it doesn't matter what direction it comes from, doesn't matter what the theology is, we have to investigate it. sen. grassley: my time is up. i'm going to have a lot of questions for answers. -- in writing. judge garland: fair enough. >> i want to try to give an indication of the sequence. dip lumen will be next and on the republican side, think it will be john gordon. they can arm wrestle until after they make that decision and then senator carton, i believe you were the next -- this has become a little difficult to predict in the sequence but i want to make sure you see it coming. senator blumenthal. sen. blumenthal: thank you, mr.
chairman. i want to pursue a couple of the questions i was asking when we ran out of time, just to say that on the issue of climate change, president biden as a candidate committed to holding accountable the oil and gas industry for any lines or fraud they committed in denying the effects of climate change, and i hope you will take that into consideration in determining what the department of justice will do in those kinds of cases, pursuing any kind of pollution or climate change or lies in connection with the oil and gas industry. in just to kind of ask a professional question, do you have any doubt that human beings are a cause of climate change? judge garland: no. no doubt at all. sen. blumenthal: it wasn't a
trick question. i ask it because the last major nominee before this committee back in september was a supreme court nomination, seem to have some trouble with that question, but i'm glad you don't. let me move to the issue of racial discrimination, which has been pursued, and i welcome your very sincere and passionate commitment to ending racism and racial injustice. we are in the midst of a racial justice movement right now. one of the areas that most concerns me is holding accountable public officials when they violate individual rights and liberties, as you know, section 242 makes it a federal crime to willfully deprive a person of their constitutionally -- constitutional right of acting under color of law but prosecutors have to show that
that public official had a specific intent to deprive constitutional rights, which as you also know is a pretty high bar. i believe, and i have advocated that we, in effect, lowered the state of mind requirement of section 242 from willfully to knowingly or with reckless disregard, because this requirement makes section 242 prosecutions rare or impossible, and so i hope you agree that we need to adopt measures that will enable criminal accountability where all of the elements of the crime are committed and the mens rea intent requirement can fit the crime. judge garland: what i can agree
is that i will consult with the career lawyers in the civil rights division who are the ones that would be bringing these cases. i honestly just don't know. i know everyone says they are very difficult to make. on the other hand, in the clinton administration, we successfully made quite a number of those cases, so i'd like them to know from talking to them what kinds of changes might be necessary in the statute and what the consequences of changing the mens rea requirement would be. sen. blumenthal: thank you. i would also like to ask about section 230. i propose various measures, one actually adopted and signed by the president that imposed accountability on the big tech platforms for certain kinds of really horrific material, human trafficking, and senator graham
and i had led an effort to hold accountable the tech companies for spreading child sexual abuse material. i think reform of section 230 is long overdue. i led these kinds of targeted and bipartisan efforts to revise section 230 two hold big tech accountable, and i hope that you will consider joining with the congress in those kinds of targeted, deliberate efforts to reform section 230, which no longer fits the world that currently it applies to. judge garland: i don't know that much about 230, except the case i mentioned that i worked on myself, which was a pretty direct application of the condition. i know that a number of members,
and you spoke to me about this in our meetings, and i know people have different views about how it should be altered. i really would have to study that, but i'm very eager to study that. there is no doubt the internet has changed from when to 30 was originally adopted. so i would be eager and interested in studying it and speaking with the members about it. sen. blumenthal: thank you very much. sen. cornyn: are you familiar with title 42, which is a public health measure which restricts traffic across the international order is a public health measure to mitigate the spread of covid-19? are you familiar with that? judge garland: i don't know the statute specifically. i know that there must be provisions that do that, but i don't know the statute, no. sen. cornyn: one of the things i hear from customs and border patrol is they are fearful that when the current restrictions on
cross-border traffic or lifted, there will be no plan in its place and certainly no transition to get back to normal cross-border trade traffic, and this is a huge issue that i've raised with the director and others as well. i just want to make sure that is on your radar screen. i also want to take up about the 1.3 million asylum cases that are backlogged. there is no way the united states government is ever going to clear that backlogged, but i want to suggest to you that that is part of a conscious strategy by the cartels who make a lot of money moving people across the border into the united states, along with drugs, whether it's human trafficking, whether it's drugs, whether it's just migrants who are trying to flee poor economic circumstances and
dangerous conditions in their home country. but if the biden administration is not going to enforce current laws with regard to immigration, and there are many people suggesting, including the nominee for health and human services that we ought to get free health care to people who are not legally in the country, all of this is going to be a huge incentive for more and more people to immigrate illegally into the united states, and obviously the department of justice hasn't very important role to play there. but i want to suggest this is not an accident, this is not a coincidence. this is part of a conscious strategy by the cartels who are enriched by each and every person, each and every load of drugs that comes across the border. and i hope that you will commit to working with me and all the other members of congress to try to address this humanitarian and public health crisis in addition to the other aspects of immigration. will you agree to do that? judge garland: certainly i will
commit to working with member's of congress to address the public health crisis. i wasn't aware that the cartels were doing this, but it seems like something the justice department needs to focus on. sen. cornyn: is referred to as transnational criminal organizations, cartels, basically people who are engaged in criminal enterprises for money. they care nothing about the people, they leave some to die in route to the united states. all they care about is money. so i appreciate your willingness to work with me and others about that. china and russia to a lesser extent have perfected cyber espionage on the united states for many reasons, but impart part to steal our intellectual property. the billions of dollars that congress appropriates for development of the next
generation stealth fighter to nuclear modernization, you name it. if the russians and the chinese can get it without making those investments than a years long delay necessary to roll them out , they have a tremendous advantage in terms of competing with us economically and also militarily. 80% of all economic espionage cases brought by the department of justice involved communist china, and there's some nexus to china in about 60% of all trade have to cases. i've told people that director ray, who is a pretty stoic individual, gets positively animated when he begins to talk about the role of -- that china is playing in its rivalry with the united states, both from an economic standpoint, and if you look at the south china sea and
some of its aggressive and boisterous actions there with the potential for military conflict in some future, this is our number one challenge, i believe, today as we speak here. do you share my concerns about china's role as a rival in what they are doing in terms of stealing intellectual property, what that means to us economically and from a national and security perspective? judge garland: i don't have any inside information with respect to what the intelligence agencies no, but i have read quite a lot about this and it seems quite clear to me that the chinese are involved in the hacking and stealing of our intellectual property. we are in an age where individual espionage prosecutions don't quite cut it, given the internet and how some much can be stolen in just a single act. so this has to be and all of
government response to this problem. there has to be a forward look as to what's happening to us. there has to be a defensive look. i know that is the purpose of cyber command. that is certainly something the dni's very concerned about and of course the fbi with respect to enforcement. but this is a dangerous problem, for all the reasons you've said, and it requires the whole of government response. >> based on who is present and apparently interested, senator booker, senator cotton, senator ossoff -- those are the ones i see. sen. booker: thank you very much, mr. chairman. i'd love to just jump in real quick if i may, we've talked about your incredible work with the oklahoma city bombing, but
i'm also aware that you have a long record of working on domestic terrorism in pretty significant ways. in the mid-1990's in response to a wave of bombing and arson attacks against black churches in the south, the clinton administration formed a national task force for you and your leadership along with others where you helped meet this justice department priority, resulting in several hundred investigations and arrests. i just really appreciate the totality of your record on fighting to mastic terrorism. quickly i just wonder in terms of proportionality, since that time until now, we've seen this rise of terrorist attacks in our country. since 9/11, the majority of domestic terrorist attacks happen right wing extremist groups and the majority of those have been white supremacist groups. again, you're not in the position but just the proportionality of the resources
we are directing toward trying to stop the scourge of domestic terrorism, is this something you will look at in terms of the resources of the agency? judge garland: the first thing i should do in my briefings on the capital bombing our briefings with director ray asked where he sees the biggest threat and whether the resources of the bureau and the department are allocated toward the biggest bread and the most dangerous and direct threat. we do have to be careful across the board. we can never let somebody sneak around because we are not focusing but we also have to allocate our resources toward the biggest threat. sen. booker: in an earlier conversation we were talking about systemic racism, i've watched tons of friends and elite colleges not worried at all about being arrested for marijuana, while the inner-city
has a much different set of laws applying to them. but i want to get to the good news, i think in the united states of america, red states, blue states -- the federal government is out of step with that, as of now. i hope to work in a bipartisan way to see if we can advance the federal government may be to delist the legislation, think of some restorative justice elements. new jersey just today signed its first major effort at legalization and restorative justice. one thing that was done by the obama administration was putting forward the call memorandum, as i'm sure you're aware. attorney general jeff sessions rescinded the memorandum which gave guidance to u.s. attorneys
that the federal marijuana prohibition should not be enforced in states that have legalized marijuana in some form. do you think the guidance in the call memorandum should be reinstated, that the justice department respects states decisions? judge garland: i do remember it and i have read it. this is the question of prioritization about resources and prosecutorial discretion. it does not seem to me a useful use of limited resources that we have to be pursuing prosecutions in states that have legalized and are regulating the use of marijuana either medically or otherwise. i don't think that is a useful use. i do think we need to be sure there are no in runs around the state runs that camel enterprises are doing. so that kind of enforcement should be continued, but i don't
think it's a good use of our resources where states have already authorized and it only confuses people, obviously, within the state. sen. booker: so violence against lack trans americans is unconscionable, with many murders every single year. the bullying and violence against a lot of trends children, about a third of lgbtq american children report missing school because of fear, fear of violence and intimidation. is this something that you will make a priority to protect all children from violence and discrimination, particularly in the case of transgender children, and would you also commit to taking seriously the targeting of transgender adults specifically with the trends we are seeing with alarming numbers of murders of black transgender -- judge garland: these are hate
crimes, and it's the job of the justice department to stop this, to find them, to enforce and penalize. that's what the special litigation unit in the civil rights division is intended to do. there is the shepherd bird act which was particularly aimed at this. i'm not sure whether it needs broadening, but it's clear to me that this kind of hateful activity has to stop, and yes, we need to put resources into it. sen. booker: thank you for your time and i'm going to stop here because i do not want to make tom cotton mad at me. >> the remaining senators for five minutes each. senator cotton. sen. cotton: judge, i want to return to where we stopped this morning with the question of racial equality. last year the department of justice sued yale university for
discriminating on the basis of race. based on yale's known data, if you look at one of its top academic categories, the admission rates by racial category were as follows. asian americans, 6%, white applicants a percent, hispanics, 20 1%, african-americans 49%. do you think that evidence suggests discrimination based on race in the yale discrimination process? judge garland: my best recollection is that between my nomination and now the department has made a decision about that. >> the case was voluntarily dismissed on february 3. judge garland: my recollection is correct. these kind of cases obviously depend on application of the supreme court's opinion and they require a lot of factual development and examination of the facts.
these cases do not only depend on disparate statistics, but on all the factors the supreme court instructed the lower courts and the government as to what kinds of affirmative action in higher education are permissible and which ones aren't. so i honestly can't draw any conclusions without knowing the facts of the case. >> the supreme court case law about racial discrimination said that race can only be used as a plus factor. it cannot be the predominant factor. when asian american kids are less times -- eight times less likely to be admitted in the same band of academic achievement, you don't think that at least suggest a case of racial discrimination? judge garland: i don't remember exactly the supreme court opinion but they seem to much exactly -- what you just said.
you can have a rigid clodagh, you can have -- rigid quota. this was a companion case, the university of michigan law school with respect to -- the court said it was a holistic approach that was permissible with respect to grants, it was a fixed number and not permissible. those are things you find out by discovery and examination of what the actual practices of the university were. >> did anyone in the biden administration consult with you about dropping the lawsuit? judge garland: it's not appropriate for me to be examining anything like that unless you confirm me. >> will the department of justice under your leadership pursue cases of obvious racial
discrimination in higher education? judge garland: of course, yes, obviously. >> i think this presents an obvious case of discrimination against asian americans. i expect some asian americans and their kids are disappointed in those answers, judge. judge garland: i'm only giving an answer of what the supreme court said the law was. i can't do any better than that. i answer was, you have to look at the facts. >> i will turn to another very important topic, which is the rising rates of violent crime in the country. according to statistic, only 45% of violent crimes in the country result in arrest. would it be better or worse if 100% of violent crimes resulted in arrest? judge garland: it would be better if congress gave the department enough money to rest every single person? i assume you're talking about both state crimes and federal crimes.
a large percentage are talking about local crimes. >> do you think the department today solves too many crimes or prosecutes too many criminals? judge garland: the justice department? i think it may bring charges in areas which are not a good allocation of its resources, but i don't think it has sufficient resources and probably never will to pursue every crime. that seems impossible. >> we spoke about this last week in our telephone call about the importance of state and local law enforcement to work together in a collaborative fashion with the department of justice. i was glad to know that you agree with me those partnerships are vital to reduce crime and keep archimedes safe. i just want to give you the chance to put that on the record today. judge garland: yes, absolutely. my experience in oklahoma city was close cooperation with the
local da's offers, with the governor and the state police. i think these joint task forces an exceedingly good idea. i'm completely on board with this, yes, sir. sen. barrasso: -- sen. offof: i want to -- sen. ossof. sunday would've been always been john lewis's 81st birthday. he committed his life and nearly lost his life in the struggle for voting rights. but as we speak, george's state legislature is considering legislation that would make it harder for georgians to vote. for example, to end sunday early voting, which is used heavily a black and working-class voters to cut the window during which voters can participate via
absentee ballot, which would make it harder for seniors to vote. i'm not asking you to comment on the specific bills, but what i'm hoping you can provide is an assurance that the department of justice will diligently and fully enforce constitutional and statutory guarantees of the rights to vote. judge garland: i give you my complete assurance, yes, senator. >> i also like to discuss with you resources available for public defenders office is around the country. a visit to a new civil court in any major american city will reveal that a steady stream of low income defendants, lacking the resources to hire their own attorneys, are often represented by overworked and under resourced public defenders which contributes to class and race bias in the justice system, and in my view, is an affront to the constitutional guarantee of due
process as well as of equal protection. so will you work with my office and this committee to determine whether grant programs which may already exist at the department to support local public defenders's offices, which may need to be created, can be considered in legislation that this committee and the senate may consider? judge garland: i will, senator. there is no equal justice in the united states unless everybody has equal access to justice. my own experience, the public defenders office needs resources. i tried my best when i was in an administrative position to apply as many resources as possible. the same for loggers who volunteer under the criminal justice act. the difference between having an excellent lawyer or not can make all the difference in the world. and i think we should give all the resources that we can, and with respect to local courts and
local public defenders, having grant programs, but of course to the extent congress is willing, i'm strongly in favor. >> i appreciate that answer and i look forward to working with you and i hope the chairman and ranking member almost grant programs -- and finally i want to return to the discussion that we had earlier about pattern or practice investigations. i just want to urge you that if you are confirmed and as you take this office, and there will be so many demands on your time and your attention and important missions from the department to fight violent crime and to defend our national security, that you personally exercise leadership within the department to ensure that the civil rights division's mission is elevated and emphasize, and that you come to this committee to seek and secure any resources that you need to make that real. and just to illustrate why i believe that is so important,
the south fulton jail in my home state of georgia has been known to the public for years to have appalling conditions for incarcerated people. and actually in the last month, the federal court ordered changes to practices within the jail. but it was after years of litigation. the u.s. attorney's office did file a brief in the case but the litigation was brought by independent, nonprofit plaintiffs. years it took for changes to be ordered by a federal court. i will read you a quote from the plaintiff's brief to illustrate the conditions in this jail. and i want to warn the public viewing this on television that the material is graphic. "the cells were covered in bodily fluids, rust and mold. in these conditions, the inmates deteriorated.
there was incoherent screaming, and intelligently, laying catatonic, banging their heads against walls and repeatedly attempting suicide. in the south fulton jail in georgia, these conditions are not unique to this facility. i want to urge you and ask you one more time, please, ruth -- respectfully, judge garland, your commitment to elevate this nation within the department and to work to secure the human rights of incarcerated people and the american public with all the power you will have in this position. judge garland: you have my commitment. the civil rights division has responsibility and some authorities in these areas and so is quite capable of pursuing these kinds of cases. i took to heart what the chairman said with respect to the role that robert kennedy
played when he was the attorney general, and i regard my responsibilities with respect to the civil rights division as the top of my major priorities list. so you have my commitment to do everything i can in this area. >> with the chairman's indulgence, judge, will you commit to reviewing any materials that are sent to you by congress or by entities such as the naacp or the southern center for human rights where it pertains to conditions of incarceration? judge garland: so that i have some time to be able to read everything that i need to read, if it's alright with you, i will commit to being sure that the head of the civil rights division and the associate attorney general, who are directly responsible do that, and then brief me about it. i will to the extent possible,
i've already committed to reading a 400 page document, and there are only so many hours in my day. >> i understand. thank you so much. sen. hawley: i'd like to talk more about the law enforcement challenges at the border. just a fundamental question, do you believe that illegal entry at america's border should remain a crime? judge garland: i haven't thought about that question, i just haven't thought about that question. i think the president has made clear that we are a country with borders and with a concern about national security. i don't know of a proposal to decriminalize but still make it unlawful to enter. i just don't know the answer to that question, i haven't thought about it. sen. hawley: will you continue to prosecute unlawful border crossings? judge garland: this is again a
question of allocation of resources. the department will prevent unlawful crossing. i have to admit i just don't know exactly what the conditions are and how this is done. i don't know what the current program is with respect to this. so i assume the answer would be yes, but i don't know what the issues surrounding it are. >> let me ask about the guidelines on asylum eligibility. there were previous guidelines about asylum eligibility. senator cornyn talked about the significant back log we have currently in asylum cases. will you continue to keep in the
current guidelines on asylum eligibility, or do you anticipate changing them? judge garland: again, given my current professional occupation, i've had no experience whatsoever with the guidelines, so i can't give you a direct answer to that question. asylum is part of american law and the justice department and the state department have an obligation to apply that law. i don't know what the guidelines are that you are talking about or revisions to the guidelines you are talking about. >> if confirmed i am sure you will be reviewing this in considering these questions. will you pledge to keep us fully posted as you do so? judge garland: if there's a change in government policy, of course there will be a public angel -- change because you cannot apply those guidelines. >> let me turn to the subject of antitrust. i heard your answer about the
ongoing google antitrust prosecution. believe your answer was you did not anticipate any changes in that ongoing prosecution. judge garland: i don't want to talk about the case because it is a pending case. as with most of our investigations, when it -- if i'm confirmed, i will examine them. but i don't have any reason to think that i would stop that kind of investigation. >> recently it was reported that susan davies is being considered to lead the antitrust division. she defended facebook from federal antitrust laws. facebook has been another target of antitrust scrutiny. do you think it's appropriate to have someone who is a defender of these massive corporations leading the antitrust division? judge garland: let me say a number of things in response to this. first of all, the department has recusal rules which prevent somebody who had a role i'm taking a role in a case like that.
susan davies is a fantastic lawyer, a woman of enormous integrity, and i have every confidence that were she in that division, she would proceed as completely appropriate. but it turns out that the press reports are completely incorrect. >> she is not under consideration? judge garland: not that i know of, no. >> and is not going to be, to the best of your knowledge? judge garland: i don't think either she nor i have aspirations for her to be in the antitrust division. so i'm not exactly sure where this came from, but she is a woman of remarkable ability who has helped me in my previous role, and i would be very eager to rely on her good judgment. and a woman of strong, ethical judgment. if she were in a position anywhere in the department, she would know when to recuse or not. on this particular issue, as far as i know, she's not going to be
in the antitrust division, not because she wanted to be or because i wanted her to be in there and somebody said she couldn't. >> i think that is welcome news, and i just want to register my own point of view here. recusal are not, the message it was sin, and the google case is perhaps the most significant antitrust case undertaken since microsoft. google is significantly more powerful than microsoft was. the message it was sin to have a lawyer defending these companies -- judge garland: i don't know who is sending this message or why the message was being sent. i don't have any intention of this, but i am confident that had this been the case, it would not be a problem. unfortunately or fortunately, a lot of the best antitrust lawyers in the country have some involvement, one way or another, in some part of high-tech, and
we can exclude every single good lawyer from being able to be in the division. but that is not an issue and nothing to be concerned about. sen. cruz: judge garland, i want to go back to the topic of protecting the department of justice from political influence and being weaponized politically. a number of senate democrats at this hearing have used the opportunity to cast aspersions to the jobs bill -- i think he showed enormous courage and fighting to defend the rule of law. but bill barr, when explicitly asked about whether he would terminate robert mueller at his confirmation hearing, the same situation you find yourself, he said he would not terminate him, absent "good cause."
are you willing to meet the same standard of integrity that bill barr demonstrated, and will you make that same commitment to this committee that you will not terminate mr. durham absent good cause? judge garland: no, what i've said to the committee is that i need to get information about this investigation, which i do not have here. i understand that a decision has been made to keep him in place and i have absolutely no reason to doubt that that was the right decision and that he should be kept in place. but i can't go any further without learning the facts of the investigation and what the status is. sen. cruz: judge garland, with all due respect, judicial nominees sit in that chair and declined to answer just about every question senators pose, saying well, as a judge, i can't commit how i would rule on a given case, and that is
appropriate. you are not nominated to be a judge in this position. your nominated to executive position and you understand fully well the difference between attorney general versus an article three judge. bill barr didn't know the details of the mueller investigation at the time, but he knew that bob mueller was investigating president trump, that it was highly politically sensitive. and so to show his integrity and commitment to being nonpartisan, he said he wouldn't terminate mueller absent good cause. you have the opportunity to do the same thing. investigation into durham is highly political and potentially indicates joe biden and barack obama. i just want to be clear, you are refusing to give that same commitment, you want to keep the options open to terminate the investigation. judge garland: i'm not refusing to give that commitment because i am a judge. i'm telling you what i think an
attorney general ought to do, which is to look at the facts before making a decision. i'm also telling you that i will never make a decision in the department based on politics or partisanship. so whatever decision i would make, it would not be based on that. all i can ask you to do is trust me based on the record of my 24 years as a judge, my entire career before that as a prosecutor, and my life before that. that is my record of integrity, and that's what you have before you. sen. cruz: so of similar line of questions you were asked concerned the google antitrust investigation. big tech as a whole contributed over $15 million to the joe biden campaign. they are enormously important democratic donors. there will be enormous political pressure to abandon that case against google. can you get this committee assurances that you can stand up to that political pressure, just because democratic fundraisers
want to be lenient on google, that the department of justice will not give into that pressure? judge garland: senator cruz, i'm old enough to remember when there was a political effort to end a case, and antitrust case in the justice department against at&t. -- against itt. the international telephone and telegraph company. if i'm not wrong, this was one of the paragraphs in the indictment, proposed indictment of impeachment of president nixon, i think. it was around the same time. it had to do with a partisan effort to influence a justice department the antitrust division. i grew up knowing this is not something that is permissible for the justice department to do. in my whole life has been looking at post-watergate
attorneys general who stood up to that kind of stuff. i can assure you, i don't care what kind of donor talks to me, and i don't expect to talk to any donors. i have no conflict. i don't own any google stock, and i will do whatever is in the right thing. sen. cruz: you voted to rehear the heller case or the parker case on -- i argued the parker case and the dcc. as attorney general will the department of justice argue for the supreme court to overturn heller versus district of columbia? judge garland: the department makes all kinds of judgments like that. i can't promise, but i find it hard to believe that the department could think there was any possibility of overturning the heller case. sen. cruz: determines indulgence, the senators wrote a
letter to durbin asking this committee to investigate governor cuomo's -- sending covid positive individuals into nursing homes. a senior aide of his admitted to a cover-up to hide information from the departed of justice. you've committed to a number of investigations here at this hearing today. will you commit to investigating the extent to which the government of new york wrote laws are covered up their policies concerning covid positive patients in nursing homes? judge garland: with all of these investigations, the justice department is open to evidence of fraud, false statements, violations of the law and will begin an appropriate way in the u.s. attorney's office. without coming on this in particular come because i don't know the facts -- sen. cruz: when the mother-in-law is the senior official -- would you lease
commit to not having the investigation done by person with a conflict of interest? judge garland: of course. i don't know any of the facts, but i guarantee that someone with a conflict of interest will not be the person running investigation of any kind. >> this question about the durham special counsel, for the record, the president of the united states in the white house, when they reported their policy on the future of the u.s. attorneys, they made two exceptions, if i remember correctly. one was for the delaware u.s. attorney in second was for, in this situation with durham, the administration is clearly committed publicly to allowing durham to complete his investigation. i don't know that any additional comments are needed beyond that, though you've been asked many times that question. in terms of attorney general barr, we do remember that he wrote an unsolicited memo
questioning the legitimacy of the mueller investigation before he was under consideration for the office of attorney general. i don't know why the other side keeps returning to this, but i think your position is consistent with the white house position and is what we would expect of any attorney general and it comes to making the assessment after they learn the facts. senator whitehouse. sen. whitehouse: thank you, chairman. am i the final question or? -- i may be all that stands between you and relief from these proceedings, your honor. i would summarize our earlier conversation as you telling us that when we ask you questions, or the department or the fbi questions, we are entitled to an answer, and if the answer is no, we can tell you that, we are
entitled to annex the nation as to why you think that. is that correct? judge garland: yes, that's correct, senator. sen. whitehouse: i touched on executive privilege because the department has a role as an arbiter of executive privilege determinations. we've had documents it in here blank that had the phrase constitutional privilege stamped on them. no articulation of what constitutional privilege it was. we have had witnesses claim to assert executive privilege, but the administration never backed them up by actually asserting the privilege so there was never actually a test of the proposition. but our chairman wouldn't force an answer, so we were stuck. and i urge you -- maybe we should even have a hearing on it, think through what executive privilege ought to look like,
what the process for declaring it ought to look like, and try to get that cleared up so in this committee, we are no longer being treated the way we were in the last administration. you mentioned that false statements were a way that cases traditionally came in, went to the u.s. attorney first. there is one sort of strange anomaly just false statements to the irs. the administration before this one took the view that a false statement to the irs was something they wouldn't look at unless it had been referred by the irs. so i get the policy of not getting into criminal investigations on tax law without the irs saying we would like you to prosecute this. we are the tax law experts and we really have some equities here and to proceed criminal in this matter. i get that. when it is a plain-vanilla false statement, i did that as u.s.
attorney. you did those cases. anyone who served as a u.s. attorney has done those cases. i would urge you to reconsider a policy of deferring to the irs for proceeding on a civil false statement case. i flagged that for you. -- i flag that for you. it seems to me -- it seems to me failing to proceed, failing to proceed where an investigation or prosecution is warranted and doing so on political grounds is just as bad as proceeding with an investigation or prosecution on political grounds. would you agree that is a correct proposition? judge garland: absolutely. sen. whitehouse: last of all, we all need something to believe
in, i think. people who worked in the department very much believe in the department of justice. they believe in the merits and norms and values of the traditions of their service and the department. people across this country need to believe. and there was a lot that happened in the last administration to cause doubt about whether the department of justice met that standard, they were worthy of the public's trust and belief. as your closing comments, that me ask you to respond to how you view the importance of your -- of the public's trust and belief in the department of justice and your commitment to salvaging if necessary, restoring as needed and upholding those ideals.
judge garland: look, i cannot agree with you more. it is not just at the department has to do justice. it has to appear to do justice and the people of the united states have to believe it does justice. otherwise, people lose their faith in the rule of law. they take the law into their own hands. they become cynical about law enforcement, about public servants. i would like for the time i am in the justice department to turn down the volume on the way in which people view the department, that the justice department not be the center of partisan disagreement, that we return to the days when the department does its law enforcement and criminal justice
policy and that this is viewed in a bipartisan way, which for a long time in the history of the department, that is the way it was. i know these are divisive times. i am not naive, but i would like to do everything i can to have people believe that that is what we are doing. people will disagree. people on the left side, the right side, the democratic side, the republican side will disagree with things that i do. and that has happened as a judge. the only thing i can hope is people will understand i am doing what i do because i believe it is the right thing and not out of some improper motive. that is the best i can ask. if you confirm me and if at the end of my time people still believe that, i will consider
that a singular accomplishment. chair durbin: i'm going to say a few words about what the committee is going to do tomorrow in pursuit of your nomination and a few closing comments. tomorrow, the second day of the hearing begins at 10:00 a.m. we will hear from a panel of outside witnesses. questions for record from the senators on the committee must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on wednesday, february 24. i hope people will show good faith and common sense in the number of questions they submit because you have been open for what people have task on their minds. my appreciation of your background is a little different than some. i know one of your earliest inspirations was a man who proceeded to serve with distinction in all three levels of government in the federal
branch as well as his initial service in the illinois house of representatives. one of his closest friends and allies and colleagues over the years was a man named paul simon who dusted me off a few times when i lost elections and said you will get them next time. i eventually did. it took a while. i knew him personally and through his relationship with my mentor, they represented the very best in public service. integrity, honesty, hard work, all of the above. we are lucky to be heirs of that legacy and i think it has inspired both of us in our different pursuits of public service. when president-elect biden told me you were under consideration for this job, i thought instantly this is the right
person to put in as attorney general. the department of justice needs to have its morale restored. it needs to have its reputation restored. it needs leadership that is honest and that we can respect from every corner of this country. you are that person. your testimony today is evidence of that. i want to thank your family in particular. you mentioned but it is well worth repeating. lynn, thank you for being here. rebecca and her husband, and jessica, thank you for being here today in support of an extraordinary person who is ready to serve again and has been called by the president to be there at a moment of history when he is needed the most. this president has put faith in you, judge garland, and we will do the same. i look forward to your swift