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Merrick Garland, President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, in Wilmington, Delaware in January. Photo:y Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland will pledge to take the lead in prosecuting those charged over the U.S. Capitol siege and vow prosecutorial independence from President Biden at his confirmation hearing Monday.

Why it matters: As attorney general, Judge Garland would oversee politically sensitive cases, including investigations into the taxes of the president's son Hunter Biden and the origins of the probe into former President Trump's dealings with Russia.

Driving the news: Per his prepared opening statement released Saturday night, Garland plans to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that if confirmed, he'll address civil rights and fight discrimination and domestic terrorism.

  • He'll highlight his career as a prosecutor — notably his supervision of the investigation into domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people.
  • On the Capitol siege, Garland will say that he intends to "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."
  • On the independence of the position of attorney general, Garland will say: "The President nominates the attorney general to be the lawyer — not for any individual, but for the people of the United States."

For the record: Garland, 68, is a Chicago native and graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School, who has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 1997.

  • He was nominated by then-President Obama in 2016 to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
  • But then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) prevented this, insisting the replacement should be selected by the newly elected president later that year. Justice Neil Gorsuch was later confirmed instead under the Trump administration.

Of note: Former Trump administration Attorney General Bill Barr was criticized throughout his tenure by Democrats, who accused him of political interference in criminal cases on behalf of the former president — which he strongly rejected.

  • In his last press conference as attorney general in December, Barr took the rare step of publicly contradicting Trump on hot-button issues including Hunter Biden, voting machines and Russia being behind the hacking of federal agencies.

Read Garland's opening remarks, via DocumentCloud:

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Garland: U.S. "facing more dangerous period" than aftermath of OKC bombing

Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland sounded the alarm on the threat of domestic terrorism at his confirmation hearing Monday, saying the U.S. is "facing a more dangerous period" than after the Oklahoma City bombing.

The big picture: Garland drew a line between the bombing — for which he supervised the prosecution during a stint at the Justice Department — to a recent "enormous rise in hate crimes." He compared the effort to curb the violence with the "battles of the original Justice Department against the Ku Klux Klan."

Garland rips Trump's family separation policy: "I can't imagine anything worse"

Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden's nominee for attorney general, decried the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy at his confirmation hearing Monday, calling it "shameful" and agreeing to cooperate with future investigations.

Why it matters: The policy — which "came at the expense" of weighing the impact on families, according to a Justice Department watchdog report — resulted in over 500 parents still separated from their children as of October 2020. Biden has launched a task force on reuniting families as part of a campaign pledge.

Attorneys general fight hate crimes while facing hate

Racine in his office in March 2019. Photo: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, a Haitian immigrant, is leading one of the most diverse sets of attorneys general in the nation's history on a campaign against hate crimes while they face hateful rhetoric and threats themselves.

Why it matters: The country's electorate is becoming more diverse, yet hate crimes jumped to record levels last year. And the problem may even be worse. Most police departments don't bother reporting hate crimes.