Attorney General Garland Answers Nearly 4 Hours of Questions from Senators
Attorney General Merrick Garland was in the hot seat on Wednesday, answering questions about a number of topics before a Senate committee. The hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee lasted almost four hours, marking Garland’s first public appearance on Capitol Hill this year.
Before the members of the committee launched into their questioning, Garland was given the opportunity to provide an opening statement. He used this time to speak about the Department of Justice (DOJ) and its quest to protect reproductive freedom, reduce violent and hate crime across the country, and partner with Ukraine to win the battle against the Russians. Garland gave credit to the 115,000 DOJ employees and their commitment to uphold the nation’s law and guard civil rights and democratic institutions.Read More »
Questions Surrounding Biden Probe
One of the primary topics of discussion on Wednesday surrounded the investigation by the Delaware U.S. attorney’s office into Hunter Biden. When peppered with questions by Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, Garland said that he has pledged not to interfere with that ongoing investigation. He said that the Delaware attorney, David. C. Weiss, has complete authority over that matter.
Garland also conceded that it would be a national security issue if the president’s son had indeed been receiving money from a foreign government in an attempt to influence the decisions of the American government. While Hunter Biden has continued to deny allegations that he has engaged in criminal activities through his business ventures, Republicans have pressed on with the investigation and questions.
Online Sales of Drugs
Judiciary Committee Chairman Dirk Durbin used his time to question Garland about whether he thinks social media companies should be held responsible for the sale of illegal drugs through their platforms. The Illinois Democrat questioned the validity of Section 230 and its ease of being used as a shield for technology platforms not being held liable for what their users post.
Garland agreed with Durbin that his department needs to do something more to encourage these companies to search their posts for signs of illegal drug sales. The increase in drug sales through these platforms has been blamed for the rise in overdoses and other issues.
Supreme Court Justices Security
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Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee questioned Garland about the department’s plan to protect the safety of the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. This security has been an issue since multiple instances of protestors picketed the residences of conservative justices after the court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Garland reminded Lee that he ordered the U.S. Marshals Service to secure the homes of the justices after the leak of the draft opinion, an unprecedented move for an attorney general.
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Garland also said that there were 70 marshals sent to provide security for the justices during this tumultuous time period. This protection was put to the test when a protestor approached the home of Justice Brett Kavanaugh but left when he saw two marshals standing guard outside of the house.
Complaints About Department and Rights of Parents
It was a tense few moments when Garland was questioned by Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana about the Department of Justice (DOJ) allegedly trying to interfere with the rights of parents to lodge complaints about schools. The now debunked claims come from a letter in 2021 from the National School Boards Association asking the DOJ to address the increase in the number of threats against education administrators, comparing these threats to acts of domestic terrorism. In response, Garland wrote a memo asking federal and local authorities to handle these threats, however, he stopped short of referring to them as acts of terrorism.
Kennedy claimed that the memo was understood to be a threat to investigate parents for simply voicing their concerns about various educational issues. Garland had to reiterate multiple times that his agency is not trying to interfere with the rights of parents to make complaints about the education of their kids.
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Garland was also questioned extensively about Ticketmaster and the mess generated when tickets for the upcoming Taylor Swift tour went on sale. Millions of fans were left without even an opportunity to purchase tickets after the site repeatedly melted down. This topic was previously the discussion of a sole hearing on Capitol Hill, uniting legislators on both sides of the aisle.
The DOJ has opened an antitrust investigation looking into the owner of Ticketmaster, Live Nation Entertainment. Garland acknowledged that Ticketmaster is diluting the competition and leaving consumers holding the short end of the stick.
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