President Biden’s nominee to be the next attorney general said he won’t be acting as Biden’s lawyer but as one for the people.
Merrick Garland, 68, told Texas Sen. Ted Cruz that he will act as “the lawyer for the people of the United States States” and that he’s “not the president’s lawyer” during Monday’s confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
During Cruz’s questioning of Garland, the Texas Republican brought up President Barack Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder, who served in the role from 2009-2015, and what he described as the efforts to “politicize and weaponize” the Department of Justice.
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“The Department of Justice was politicized and weaponized in a way that was directly contrary to over a century of tradition of the Department of Justice of being apolitical and not a partisan tool to target your opponents,” he said. “So it is very much my hope, if you’re confirmed as attorney general, that you will bring that reputation for integrity to the Department of Justice and demonstrate a willingness to stand up for what will be inevitable political pressure to once again politicize the Department of Justice and use it as a tool to attack the political opponents of the current administration.”
The senator also noted that Holder described his role as the attorney general to be Obama’s “wingman,” and he asked Garland if he saw his role similarly. He said he didn’t.
“I don’t want to comment on any individual’s conduct [or] any of my predecessors or FBI directors’ conduct in any way. But I can assure you, I do not regard myself as anything other than the lawyer for the people of the United States,” Garland responded. “I am not the president’s lawyer. I am the United States’s lawyer, and I will do everything in my power, which I believe is considerable, to fend off any effort by anyone to make prosecutions or investigations partisan or political in any way. My job is to protect the Department of Justice.”
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The nominee also said he would “absolutely” ensure that the Department of Justice isn’t politicized to target Biden’s opponents.