Garland Pledges Equal Justice on First Day as Attorney General

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Attorney General Merrick Garland praised Justice Department employees and pledged to demonstrate that U.S. laws will be enforced fairly and impartially after being sworn in Thursday as the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

“Public service is more than a job -- it is a calling,” Garland said in brief remarks to the department’s workforce. “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.”

Garland said there won’t be one set of rules for Democrats and another for Republicans, a reference to a pledge he made during his confirmation process to restore independence to the department after years of criticism that policies and prosecutions were being driven by politics. His predecessors Jeff Sessions and William Barr came under withering criticism for bending to political pressure from former President Donald Trump and his allies.

After his remarks, one of Garland’s first official acts will be getting briefed on the investigation into the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot by FBI Director Christopher Wray and officials from the department’s national security division.

Prosecutors have charged more than 300 people in connection with the siege by far-right groups supporting Trump. Recently, the investigation has focused on conspiracy cases against members of far-right groups that participated in the insurrection as prosecutors look to piece together how it was planned.

Garland was confirmed on a 70-30 vote in the Senate on Wednesday, with 20 Republicans joining in support of President Joe Biden’s choice of the federal appeals court judge.

He arrives at the Justice Department facing a full agenda of issues, from retooling antitrust oversight of social media giants to considering a possible plea deal in the prosecution of a top executive of Huawei Technologies Co.

He also has pledged to reinvigorate the department’s role in civil rights and voting rights enforcement and is expected to revive “pattern-or-practice” inquiries into potential abuses by police departments. The Senate has yet to confirm the nominations of Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general and civil rights attorney Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general, with some Republicans portraying Gupta as a leftist despite her endorsement by major law enforcement organizations.

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