Durbin Questions AG Nominee Garland on Domestic Terrorism and Family Separation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today asked his first round of questions during the nomination hearing for Judge Merrick Garland, President Joe Biden’s nominee to be U.S. Attorney General.  Durbin posed several questions to Judge Garland on domestic terrorism and the previous administration’s cruel zero-tolerance family separation policy.

“If you are confirmed as Attorney General, which I believe you will be, you will face what is known as the biggest, most complex investigation in Justice Department history—and that is the investigation around the events of January 6th. Two hundred and thirty have been arrested so far, and some 500 are under investigation. We know that the death of at least one police officer is one of the major elements in this investigation. I would like to ask you to reflect on two things. What is going on in America? Was Oklahoma City just a one-off unrelated to what happened here? Can you measure, based on what you have learned so far, what kind of forces are at work to divide and destroy the American dream? Secondly, when it comes to the prosecution, are there elements we should consider in terms of law enforcement to deal with this rising threat to the American democracy?” Durbin said.

Garland answered by stating that he did not believe that “this is necessarily a one-off” and described the relationship between the recent January 6th attack, the Oklahoma City bombing, and “the battles of the original Department of Justice against the Ku Klux Klan.” Garland also noted that the Director of the FBI has “indicated that the threat of domestic terrorism and particularly of white supremacist extremists is his number one concern in this area” and that “this is coupled with an enormous rise in hate crimes.” Additionally, Garland noted that he would do “everything in my power to ensure that we are protected.”

Durbin then turned to the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance family separation immigration policy, and asked for Judge Garland’s cooperation regarding oversight the Committee undertakes to hold those responsible accountable.

“The Inspector General conducted an investigation of the zero-tolerance policy and noted the Justice Department was the driving force in that policy. There is still a lot that we do not know about that policy and the accountability for the officials who were responsible for it. This Committee will hold oversight hearings to get to the bottom of it. Will you commit to cooperate with those investigations?” Durbin asked.

Garland answered by saying the Justice Department would cooperate, that the oversight responsibility of the Committee is very important, and that the zero-tolerance family separation policy was “shameful.”

Video of Durbin’s first round of questions in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s first round of questions in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s first round of questions in Committee is available here for TV Stations.