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Home U.S. February 22, 2021 Merrick Garland confirmation hearing

February 22, 2021 Merrick Garland confirmation hearing

Samuel Corum/Getty Images/FILE
Samuel Corum/Getty Images/FILE

The ongoing investigation of the Capitol riot that left five people dead has been front and center during today’s confirmation hearing. 

Attorney General nominee Judge Merrick Garland on Monday called the insurrection the “most heinous attack on the democratic processes” that he has ever seen and something he “never expected to see” in his lifetime.

In an exchange with California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Garland laid out his plan for ensuring that the perpetrators of the attack are brought to justice.  

“One of the very first things I will do is get a briefing on the progress of this investigation. I intend to give the career prosecutors who are working on this matter 24/7, all the resources they could possibly require to do this,” Garland said, adding, “And at the same time, I intend to make sure that we look more broadly, to look at where this is coming from, what other groups there might be that could raise the same problem in the future and that we protect the American people. And I know that the FBI director has made the same commitment.”

Democrats didn’t mention Trump by name when asking about the investigation into the January 6 riots, but they touched on the question of whether the Justice Department should examine Trump’s role, which led to his impeachment. Even Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, after voting to acquit Trump in the Senate trial, suggested that the criminal justice system is the right venue to consider those allegations instead.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, encouraged Garland to look “upstream,” asking whether it was a fair question for the investigation to “not rule out investigation of funders, organizers, ringleaders or aiders and abettors who were not present in the Capitol on January 6.”

“Fair question,” Garland responded. “We will pursue these leads wherever they take us.”

Federal prosecutors have charged at least 250 people in connection with the Capitol riot, according to a CNN analysis of court records and DOJ announcements. The riot was an attempt to stop the Senate from counting the electoral votes that confirmed President Biden’s win. The Senate tomorrow will hold its first public hearing on the security failures that led to the deadly Capitol riot.

CNN’s Paul Murphy contributed reporting to this post.

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