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AG Merrick Garland: Capitol riot inquiry not slowed; declines to address whether Trump should be targeted

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Attorney General Merrick Garland strongly indicated that the far-reaching inquiry into the deadly Capitol riot has not slowed, saying Monday that federal prosecutors and investigators continue to "follow the facts and the law where they land."

However, in a wide-ranging interview with The New Yorker, the attorney general declined to address whether former President Donald Trump should be swept up in the probe for inciting his followers to violently challenge the certification of President Joe Biden's election.

"We have taken action commensurate with how important this act was," Garland said. "We are doing everything we can to ensure that perpetrators of Jan. 6 are brought to justice...I'm not able to talk about any particular individuals or particular investigations..."

Attorney General Merrick Garland, center, along with Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, right, and Acting Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Director Marvin G. Richardson, left, leaves the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms headquarters in Washington, Thursday, July, 22 2021.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, center, along with Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, right, and Acting Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Director Marvin G. Richardson, left, leaves the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms headquarters in Washington, Thursday, July, 22 2021.

The attorney general said that he was "quite aware" of divided criticism that the Department of Justice had not moved aggressively enough or too harshly against riot suspects.

"This is part of the territory for any prosecutor in any case," he said.

Ten months after the assault, Garland said he gets weekly updates from FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco on the progress of an investigation that has so far resulted in charges against more than 600 people in one of the largest inquiries in U.S. history.

The stunning attack re-awakened the country to the scope of a simmering terrorist threat from within the country, vaulting the domestic threat to the top priority of the U.S. national security apparatus in the Biden administration.

"I'm confident both in the commitment and the degree of responsibility of the prosecutors who are bringing these cases," he said.

More: Timeline: How the storming of the U.S. Capitol unfolded on Jan. 6

Beyond Jan. 6, Garland weighed in on a host of issues since taking office more than six months ago, including the effort to restore the Justice Department's institutional independence, repeatedly challenged by the Trump White House, which openly sought to use the department to punish his political rivals.

He also expressed confidence in Justice's recent challenge to a Texas abortion law, which bans the procedure after six weeks.

"On the day I was nominated, the president said that he believed in and would enforce the independence of the Justice Department in individual investigations," Garland said. "This is a key element of the rule of law. We've seen the consequences of White Houses that don't obey that norm, that interfere with law enforcement prosecutions and prosecutions.

"The president has lived up to that commitment (of independence), and so have I," he said.

More: Department of Justice vows to protect those seeking abortion from new Texas law

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: AG Garland: Riot probe has not slowed; declines comment on Trump

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