Oct 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Garland defends DOJ's handling of Jan. 6 probe

Attorney General Merrick Garland

Attorney General Merrick Garland. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland will tell the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday that federal prosecutors "are doing exactly what they are expected to do" in seeking accountability for the "intolerable assault" on the Capitol on Jan. 6, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Allies of former President Trump, including Republican members of Congress, have criticized the department's treatment of rioters charged with crimes and sought to recast the insurrection as a righteous protest. Garland's testimony will be his first appearance before the panel.

  • The hearing comes as the Justice Department faces a series of contentious issues, including the enforcement of subpoenas issued by the Jan. 6 Select Committee, complaints about Texas' restrictive new abortion law and a crush of migrants at the southern border.

What he's saying: In his 12-page opening statement, obtained by Axios, Garland writes, "The violence we witnessed [on Jan. 6] was an intolerable assault, not only on the Capitol and the brave law enforcement personnel who sought to protect it, but also on a fundamental element of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power."

  • "In response to that attack, the Justice Department has undertaken an extraordinary effort to ensure that the perpetrators of criminal acts on January 6 are held accountable."
  • "To date, 55 of 56 FBI field offices have opened investigations. Citizens from across the country have provided more than 200,000 digital media tips, and the FBI continues to request the public’s assistance in identifying individuals sought in connection to the January 6 attack."
  • "And in less than 300 days, approximately 650 defendants have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for their roles in the attack."

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), chair of the Judiciary Committee, will address the Jan. 6 attack in his opening statement, too. According to excerpts of his remarks, also obtained by Axios, Nadler will say: 

  • “This growth in extremist ideology is echoed in an epidemic of violence and intimidation directed at our health care professionals, teachers, essential workers, school board members and election workers."
  • “There is a broader pattern here. In each of these cases — former President Trump’s big lie, the rise in hate crimes against citizens of Asian descent, and the growing threats of violence against public servants — the same set of individuals have leveraged the same sorts of misinformation, stoked the same sorts of grievances and shown remarkably little interest in solving our problems.”

Details: The hearing on oversight of the DOJ will take place 10am ET in the Congressional Auditorium.

Read his full statement.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include Rep. Nadler's remarks.

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