U.S. spike in domestic terrorism 'keeps me up at night' -AG

Garland, who had served as a federal appellate judge and federal prosecutor before President Joe Biden nominated him to lead the Justice Department, was testifying about the department's budget request for the 2022 fiscal year.

"We have a growing fear of domestic violent extremism and domestic terrorism," Garland told a U.S. House of Representatives budgeting subcommittee. "Both of those keep me up at night."

He did not name specific violent groups, but members of the far-right Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are among the more than 400 people arrested for the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by former President Donald Trump's supporters.

The hearing marked Garland's first appearance before Congress since being confirmed as the nation's top law enforcement officer in March.

He told the House panel that the lethality of weapons available to both foreign and domestic terrorists has increased, and that the Justice Department is "putting its resources into defending the country with respect to both".

"We have an emerging and accelerating threat," Garland said.

He highlighted in his opening remarks that the Justice Department is requesting $85 million in additional funding from Congress to bolster its efforts to combat domestic terrorism.

Garland said the department is also seeking a “historic investment" of $1 billion in its Office of Violence Against Women, and that the budget proposal includes a $232 million increase in funding to help combat gun violence.

Video Transcript

- When I was serving on a House Armed Services Committee a popular question that we would ask the Joint Chiefs of Staff and others is, you know, what keeps you up at night regarding the-- the safety of the United States of America? You know, can you share with me maybe some of the, you know, the things that you know, you have grave concern about in protecting America and the Americans?

MERRICK GARLAND: Right. So my oath is to protect the Constitution and Americans from all enemies both foreign and domestic, and so both forms of terrorism are of extraordinary concern to me. We never want to take our eyes off of what happened on 9/11 and of the risks that the-- the country continues to face from foreign-origin terrorist attacks on the Homeland. Likewise, we have a growing fear of domestic violent extremism and domestic terrorism. And both of those keep me up at night.

Every morning, virtually every morning, I get a briefing from the FBI in both-- one or the other or both areas. Since the last time I was in the Justice Department, when both were concerns as well, the lethality of weapons available to these kind of terrorists both foreign and domestic has increased. The consequence of the internet and encryption means that they can send information and make plans much more swiftly and in greater secrecy than could have been done before.

So we have an emerging and accelerating threat, and the Department is putting its resources into defending the country with respect to both. Needless to say, this is an all-of-government problem and an all-of-government solution-- the Department of Homeland Security extraordinarily important in-- in these areas, and with respect to the foreign threats, obviously our intelligence services and the Department of Defense.