Merrick Garland became emotional for the second time Wednesday during a judicial hearing as he spoke about his family’s Jewish heritage.
The attorney general got into a heated exchange with Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew when asked whether Garland, who is Jewish, believes traditional Catholics are violent extremists.
Van Drew was referring to the creation by two Pacific Coast FBI field offices that wrote a memo claiming that traditional Catholics are domestic terrorists.
‘The idea that someone with my family background would discriminate against any religion is so outrageous! So absurd!’ Garland shot at Rep. From Drew during a tense back and forth.
AG Garland appeared before the House Judiciary Committee to testify as Republicans alleged the Justice Department has political bias against them.
During his opening statement, Garland noted that he feels he owes “a debt” to the U.S. after taking in his grandmother, who fled the Holocaust. During his opening statement, Garland became choked up and tears welled in his eyes as he discussed his heritage.
He became emotional again when talking to Van Drew about possible prejudice against Catholics.
Attorney General Merrick Garland became emotional for the second time at the House Judiciary hearing on Wednesday during a heated exchange with Rep. Jeff Van Drew over whether he believes “traditional Catholics are violent extremists.”
Garland, who is of Jewish descent, fired back at Van Drew: “The idea that someone with my family background would discriminate against any religion is so outrageous! So absurd!’
“The two-tiered justice system is clear and obvious to the American public. And the buck stops with the man in charge. That man is you,” Van Drew said during his questioning of the Biden DOJ head.
“The DOJ’s actions are your fault,” he continued.
“Attorney General, I need a simple yes or no on the following. Just yes or no, because we don’t have much time. Do you agree that traditional Catholics are violent extremists, yes or no?’
“Let me answer what you said in that long list of –” Garland began before being interrupted by Van Drew.
He insisted he wanted to answer “everything” that Van Drew brought up, not just the final “yes or no” question.
“Attorney General, I control the time,” the New Jersey Republican claimed. “I’m going to ask you to answer the questions I ask.”
“Through the Chairman, I ask you: Do you agree that traditional Catholics are violent extremists? Answer the question,” he insisted when Garland tried to deflect.
“I have no idea what traditional means here, let me just…” the attorney general tried again.
‘Catholics!’ Van Drew shot back. ‘Catholics who go to church.’
‘May I answer your question?’ Garland said before appearing to burst into tears again.
‘The idea that someone with my family background would discriminate against any religion is so outrageous! So absurd!’ ‘ he said, his voice cracking.
Garland assured that he and the FBI director were “outraged” by the anti-Catholic memo.
Republicans called Garland as their anger escalated over his decision to pick David Weiss as special counsel investigating 53-year-old Hunter Biden.
The hearing comes days after Weiss charged Hunter with three counts of lying on a federal form to purchase a firearm.
But the Justice Department chief insisted: “I’ll say it again and say it again if necessary. I didn’t get involved… I left it up to Mr. Weiss to press charges or not.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland choked up during his opening statement at a judiciary hearing Wednesday as he spoke of his “debt” to the U.S. for taking in his family who fled the Holocaust
Republicans are annoyed that Garland picked Jack Smith to be special prosecutor investigating Hunter Biden. “Americans believe that there is an unequal application of the law in our country today. They believe it because it is,” Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said in his opening statement
“Americans believe that there is an unequal application of the law in our country today. They believe it because it is,” Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said in his opening statement.
A few moments later, Garland stepped back and said, “Our job is not to do what is politically expedient. Our job is not to take orders from the President, from Congress, or from anyone else about who or what should be criminally investigated.”
“I’m not the president’s lawyer,” Garland continued. “I will add: I am not an prosecutor of Congress. The Department of Justice works for the American people.”
Wednesday’s hearing showed the intensification of partisan brawling that will continue at the Capitol next Thursday with House Republicans’ first impeachment hearing against President Biden and his family’s business dealings.
Judiciary Committee member Jerry Nadler said in his opening statement: “Republicans will continue to do what they have been doing for years: discredit anyone who does not serve their political goals – at any cost.”
Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) asked Garland if he has had “any personal contact with anyone at FBI headquarters regarding the Hunter Biden investigation.”
Garland said he couldn’t remember the answer.
“I’m sorry,” Representative Johnson interjected, “you do not recall whether you spoke to anyone at FBI Headquarters about an investigation into the President’s son?”
The attorney general responded by reiterating his promise to allow Special Prosecutor Weiss to conduct his investigation without interference, but said, “I don’t believe I did that.”
Garland repeatedly said during Wednesday’s hearing that he did not “interfere” with the investigation into Hunter Biden
During his opening statement, Garland got personal and nearly broke down in tears as he told the story of his family fleeing Europe during the Holocaust and coming to the United States.
“My grandmother was one of five children born in what is now Belarus. They made it to the United States, as did two of her siblings, the other two did not. Those two died during the Holocaust. No doubt, but in America the same thing would have happened to my grandmother,” he said.
“But this country took her in, and under that protection she was able to live without fear of persecution. That protection is what sets this country apart from so many others. The protection of justice, the rule of law, is the foundation of our system of government.”
Garland added, “Repaying this country for the debt my family owes for our lives has been the focus of my entire professional career.”
“That’s why I served at the Department of Justice under five different attorneys general, under both Democratic and Republican administrations. That is why I spent more than 25 years ensuring the rule of law as a judge, and why I left a lifetime appointment as a judge and returned to the Ministry of Justice two and a half years ago. And that’s why I’m here today.”
This anecdote was a way for Garland to share why it was so important to him to treat all people the same and administer justice equally.
“Our job is to uphold the rule of law – that means applying the same laws to everyone,” he stressed.
The attorney general emphasized, “There is not one set of laws for the powerful and another for the powerless, one for the rich and one for the poor, one for Democrats and one for Republicans.”