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Tag: Merrick Garland

Garland Defends Memo Ordering FBI to Investigate Threats against School Boards

Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies before House Judiciary Committee. Photo: Congress.

By Steve Neavling

Attorney General Merrick Garland told senators on Wednesday that he had no plans to rescind a memo that orders the FBI to investigate threats against educators and school board members. 

The memo was the focus of Garland’s testimony before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in which Republicans called on Garland to withdraw the order.

The Oct. 4 memo was intended to curtail threats against school officials, not to police protected speech, Garland told senators, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“The purpose of this memorandum is to get our law enforcement to assess the extent of the problem. And if there is no problem, if states and local law enforcement are capable of handling the problem, then there is no need for our involvement,” Garland said. “This memo does not say to begin prosecuting anybody. It says to make assessments. That’s what we do in the Justice Department. It has nothing to do with politics.”

Republicans continued to criticized Garland. 

“I think most of the American people are just sort of flabbergasted if your answer is you have no regrets about this memo. Is that what you’re telling us? You think this was wise?” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., asked. 

“Senator, the obligation of the Justice Department is to protect the American people against violence, including threats of violence, and that particularly includes public officials. That is still a concern for the department,” Garland responded.

The order came after the National School Boards Association urged President Biden to offer federal assistance as educators are increasingly threatened over their positions on mask mandates and critical race theory. 

Sen. Grassley Urges Attorney General to Appoint Federal Investigator to Review Botched Nassar Case

Sen. Chuck Grassley

By Steve Neavling

Sen. Chuck Grassley is calling on a federal investigation into the FBI’s mishandling of the Larry Nassar case.

Grassley, the top member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Attorney General Merrick Garland should appoint a federal prosecutor or special counsel to examine the botched investigation and potentially pursue criminal charges. 

“Nassar abused hundreds of young athletes while FBI sat on its thumb,” Grassley said in a written statement Friday. “DOJ refused to attend the Judiciary Committee hearing this week to face questions. Attorney General Garland should assign a federal prosecutor or special counsel to uncover what the FBI knew and when, as well as to seek prosecutions of those involved in the cover-up. These brave gymnasts and all Nassar survivors deserve accountability, especially from the Justice Department.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday heard testimony from U.S. gymnasts and FBI Director Christopher Wray, who apologized for the bureau’s handling of the case.

Two months earlier, the Justice Department’s Inspector General concluded that the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office “failed to respond to the Nassar allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required.”

In the meantime, Grassley and his colleagues are working on legislation that would strengthen a federal “child sex tourist” statute that the inspector general said was inadequate. 

DOJ Launches Strike Forces to Combat Gun Violence in 5 Metro Areas

File photo of guns, via ATF

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department on Thursday launched an ambitious new initiative to reduce gun violence by cracking down on firearm tracking in five metropolitan areas. 

The cross-jurisdictional strike forces will focus on New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and the San Francisco and Sacramento region. 

U.S. attorneys will lead the effort and work with the ATF and local and state law enforcement agencies.

The plan is to use data, evidence and intelligence gathered at crime scenes to “identify patterns, leads, and potential suspects in violent gun crimes,” the Justice Department said in a news release.

“All too often, guns found at crime scenes come from hundreds or even thousands of miles away,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said. “We are redoubling our efforts as ATF works with law enforcement to track the movement of illegal firearms used in violent crimes. These strike forces enable sustained coordination across multiple jurisdictions to help disrupt the worst gun trafficking corridors. The Department of Justice will use all of its tools – enforcement, prevention, intervention, and investment – to help ensure the safety of our communities – the department’s highest priority.”

The strike forces are part of the DOJ’s “Violent Crime Reduction Strategy,” which was announced in May.

Justice Department Seeks to Restore Independence from White House

Attorney General Merrick Garland. (Photo: DOJ)

By Steve Neavling

Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a directive Wednesday that seeks to limit contacts between the Justice Department and the White House, marking a significant departure from the Trump era. 

In the memo, Garland said the Justice Department “will not advise the White House concerning pending or contemplated criminal or civil law enforcement investigations or cases unless doing so is important for the performance of the President’s duties and appropriate from a law enforcement perspective,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

The memo made exceptions for matters of national security and foreign relations. 

The guidelines are in stark contrast to Trump’s White House, which repeatedly sought to influence the DOJ and stay abreast of the department’s criminal investigations and cases.

The wording of the memo is similar to a 2009 memo issued by then-attorney General Eric Holder. Although that memo remained in effect during Trump’s term, he continually violated the language. 

In a related memo on Wednesday, the White House instructed its staff to avoid contact with departments or agencies about investigations unless given approval. 

Merrick Garland Remembers Oklahoma City Bombing on 26th Anniversary

Attorney General Merrick Garland. (Photo: DOJ)

Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged to crack down on domestic violent extremists in a speech commemorating the 26th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people. 

Garland, who led the prosecution of bomber Timothy McVeigh and his accomplice Terry Nichols, said the same brand of domestic extremism still exists. 

“Although many years have passed, the terror perpetrated by people like Timothy McVeigh is still with us,” Garland said at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. “The Department of Justice is pouring its resources into stopping domestic violent extremists before they can attack, prosecuting those who do, and battling the spread of the kind of hate that leads to tragedies like the one we mark here today.”

Garland spoke about white supremacy during his confirmation hearing earlier this year, citing the Oklahoma City bombing. 

“I supervised the prosecution of the perpetrators of the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, who sought to spark a revolution that would topple the Federal Government,” Garland told lawmakers in February. “If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government.”

Read Garland’s full speech here.

Garland Sworn in As Attorney General, Vows to Restore Faith in DOJ

Attorney General Merrick Garland is sworn in. Photo via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

Attorney General Merrick Garland was sworn-in Thursday and pledged to “adhere to norms” and restore the Justice Department’s reputation for political independence. 

“We are united by our commitment to protecting our country as our oath says, ‘from all enemies, foreign and domestic.’ And by our commitment to enforcing our country’s laws and to ensuring the civil rights and the civil liberties of our people,” Garland said in an address to the DOJ’s 115,000 employees on his first day of work. “The only way we can succeed and retain the trust of the American people is to adhere to the norms that have become part of the DNA of every Justice Department employee since Edward Levi’s stint as the first post-Watergate attorney general.” 

He concluded the speech by saying, “I am honored to work with you once again. Together, we will show the American people by word and deed that the Department of Justice pursues equal justice and adheres to the rule of law.”

Read Garland’s full speech here.

The Senate confirmed Garland on Wednesday with a 70-30 vote. 

Garland, 68, rose to national prominence in 2016 when President Obama nominated him to the U.S. Supreme Court, but Republicans denied him a hearing. 

Garland was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1997. 

Garland is a graduate of Harvard University’s college and law school. 

Committee to Vote Today on Advancing Merrick Garland for AG Confirmation

Judge Merrick Garland, via White House.

By Steve Neavling

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote today on advancing Merrick Garland, President Biden’s pick for attorney general, to the full Senate for confirmation. 

Garland has bipartisan support and is expected to receive the committee’s approval for a full Senate vote. 

Garland testified before the committee last week during a two-day confirmation hearing. 

Garland, 68, rose to national prominence in 2016 when President Obama nominated him to the U.S. Supreme Court, but Republicans denied him a hearing. 

Garland was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1997. 

Garland is a graduate of Harvard University’s college and law school.  

Garland Moves Closer to Confirmation for Attorney General

By Steve Neavling

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he plans to support Merrick Garland’s nomination for attorney general. 

When asked if he expected to vote to confirm Garland, McConnell told POLITICO, “I do.”

Garland testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday in the second day of his two-day confirmation hearing. 

During the hearing, all five witnesses praised Garland. 

The committee is expected to vote on his confirmation Monday, and the full Senate plans to vote next week. 

Garland, 68, rose to national prominence in 2016 when President Obama nominated him to the U.S. Supreme Court, but Republicans denied him a hearing. 

With Democrats now in control of the U.S. Senate, Republican won’t be able to block his nomination to serve as attorney general.  

Garland was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1997. 

Garland is a graduate of Harvard University’s college and law school.