"We must do everything in the power of the Justice Department to prevent this kind of interference with policies of American democratic institutions," Garland said.
Garland, a federal appellate judge and former prosecutor, is widely expected to be confirmed as the nation's top U.S. law enforcement official. He was nominated to lead a Justice Department now in the midst of intensive investigations into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Donald Trump supporters.
Some of the more than 200 people arrested in the siege were associated with groups such as the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, underscoring rising concern about future violence from right-wing extremists.
Garland has experience in tackling such threats, having managed the sprawling investigation into the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing by anti-government extremists and supervising the prosecution of the so-called Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski after a deadly bombing spree.
MERRICK GARLAND: From 1995 to 1997, I supervised the prosecution of the perpetrators of the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, who sought to spark a revolution that would topple the federal government. If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6.
The attorney general takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
- Was Oklahoma City just a one-off unrelated to what happened here? Can you measure, based on what you've learned so far, what kind of forces are at work to divide and destroy the American dream?
MERRICK GARLAND: I don't think that this is necessarily a one-off. We must do everything in the power of the Justice Department to prevent this kind of interference with the policies of American democratic institutions. And I plan, if you confirm me for attorney general, to do everything in my power to ensure that we are protected.
Well, Mr. Chairman, I certainly agree that we are facing a more dangerous period than we faced in Oklahoma City, than at that time. And I can assure you that this will be my first priority and my first briefing when I return to the Department if I'm confirmed.