WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s nominee for attorney general says the Justice Department must ensure laws are “fairly and faithfully enforced” and the rights of all Americans are protected, while reaffirming an adherence to policies to protect the department’s political independence.
Judge Merrick Garland, who is set to appear Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, plans to tell senators that the attorney general must act as a lawyer for the people of the United States, not for the president. The Justice Department released a copy of Garland’s opening statement late Saturday.
If confirmed, Garland would inherit a Justice Department that endured a tumultuous time under President Donald Trump — rife with political drama and controversial decisions — and abundant criticism from Democrats over what they saw as the politicizing of the nation’s top law enforcement agencies.
“It is a fitting time to reaffirm that the role of the attorney general is to serve the Rule of Law and to ensure equal justice under the law,” Garland says in his prepared statement.
The previous attorney general, William Barr, had also sought to paint himself as an independent leader who would not bow to political pressure. But Democrats repeatedly accused Barr of acting more like Trump’s personal attorney than the attorney general. They pointed to a number of controversial decisions, including overruling career prosecutors to recommend a lower sentence for Trump ally Roger Stone and moving to dismiss the criminal case against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn after he had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.