After the elections of Warnock and Ossoff flipped the Senate majority from red to blue, Senate Democrats started scheduling hearings for Biden's cabinet nominees. But Schumer and McConnell hadn't settled on the exact terms of the organizing resolution so Republican chairs from the 116th Congress were still in charge for a few weeks. Most of them were cooperative about setting up the hearings. One little Confederate turd and die-hard obstructionist refused. As chair of the Judiciary Committee, South Carolina closet queen Lindsey Graham refused a request by incoming committee chair Dick Durbin to schedule a February 8th hearing for Biden attorney general designate Merrick Garland, whose nomination by Obama for the Supreme Court in 2016 Graham had helped tank. Graham, who still thinks of himself as representing the interests of the fascist Trump regime would rather see the Justice Department without leadership-- criminals abhor justice and regulation. In a letter to Graham, Durbin wrote that Garland "is a mainstream, consensus pick who should be confirmed swiftly both on his merits and because of the pressing need to respond to the January 6 insurrection and other national security risks." Graham offered no reason for obstructing the confirmation process and a Senate staffer told me at the time that "he's just a little bitch... it's how he's been acting since McCain died."
With Graham relegated to a minority member, Garland finally gets his Judiciary Committee hearing tomorrow. Yesterday his office released an opening statement in which he reminded Trumpists, like Graham in the Senate that "The President nominates the Attorney General to be the lawyer-- not for any individual, but for the people of the United States... It is fitting to reaffirm that the role of the Attorney General is to serve the Rule of Law and to ensure equal justice under the law." That signals a complete about-face after 4 years of perverted Republican domination of the Department of Justice. Garland went on to warn the Trumpists that law and order is back!
Phrases like "fairly and faithfully enforced" might make Republicans like Graham sweat under the collar and with outright seditionists like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley still allowed to sit on the committee, Graham won't be the only one terrified about an independent, law-and-order Department of Justice. (There are 11 members of each party on the committee.)
This morning, NPR reported that "The Justice Department is still reeling from political scandals from the Trump years-- and racing to neutralize the threat from homegrown, violent extremists who participated in the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Over a legal career that spans 44 years, Garland has confronted those kinds of problems before. It's one of the many reasons the White House selected him to serve as the nation's top law enforcement officer. 'Having a well respected judge as attorney general will help get the department out of the quagmire of partisan politics that many people think it devolved to under President Trump and Attorney General [William] Barr,' said Georgetown University law professor Paul Butler."
Having been in charge of the DOJ's successful investigation after right-wing domestic terrorists blew up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995-- murdering 168 people-- Garland knows how to prosecute violent white supremicists and terrorists. Neo-Nazis Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were convicted. McVeigh, now a right-wing martyr, was executed and Nichols is a resident of a Superman prison. It is unlikely, though, that either Cruz, Hawley or Alabama Trumpist and coup-plotter Tommy Tuberville will be indicted, let alone executed or imprisoned for their roles in the failed coup.
Former prosecutor Beth Wilkinson says Garland played an important role in other confrontations with extremists in those years, including a lengthy 1996 standoff with the heavily armed Montana Freemen. The Justice Department and the FBI were eager to avoid a repeat of deadly incidents in Waco, Texas, and Ruby Ridge, Idaho, only a few years earlier.
"One of the examples I can think of is sometimes when there were these stand downs where there would be, you know, arrest warrants for someone or there would be some kind of controversy between people who were challenging the federal government, Merrick's first instinct wasn't to go in and arrest everyone," Wilkinson said. "It was to try-- along with the FBI-- to see if those disputes could be resolved."
Wilkinson said the FBI went on to arrest the men in the Montana standoff months later. She credited Garland's quick thinking and cool head with preventing what could have been a tragic outcome.