The first day of Merrick Garland's confirmation hearing for attorney general just wrapped.
For more than six hours, Garland testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and faced questions about a multitude of topics, including the politically charged investigations that await him if he's confirmed to lead the Justice Department.
Here's a look at some key lines from today's hearing:
- On the DOJ's independence: "I don't care who pressures me in any direction. The department, if I am confirmed, will be under my protection for the purpose of preventing any kind of partisan or other improper motive in making any kind of investigation or prosecution. That's my vow. That's the only reason I'm willing to do this job," Garland said.
- On the Capitol riot probe: "If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of White supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 — a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government," he claimed.
- On inequality in the justice system: The attorney general nominee stressed that the Justice Department's role is meant to "serve the Rule of Law and to ensure equal justice under the law." He noted that last year was the 150th anniversary of the Justice Department's founding in the aftermath of the Civil War, and that its core mission was to secure the civil rights promised by the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. "The mission remains urgent because we do not yet have equal justice," Garland said. "Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment, and the criminal justice system."
- On past Trump policies: While Garland declined to weigh in on some of the controversies of the Trump administration, he strongly rebuked the Trump administration's child separation immigration policy, calling it "shameful" and committing to aiding a Senate investigation into the matter. "I think that the policy was shameful. I can't imagine anything worse than tearing parents from their children, and we will provide all of the cooperation that we possibility can," he told Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin of Illinois.
- On what the role means to him: Garland pointed to his own family story and grandparents who found protection in the US after fleeing anti-Semitism and persecution as his reason and motivation for wanting to confront hate and discrimination in the US justice system. The nominee got emotional when he said that he would like to use the best of his own set of skills to pay back the country for that protection. "I come from a family where my grandparents fled anti-Semitism and persecution. The country took us in and protected us. And I feel an obligation to the country to pay back, and this is the highest best use of my own set of skills to pay back," Garland said. Watch is response here.
What comes next: Garland's hearing will continue for a second day tomorrow, with outside witnesses testifying before the Judiciary Committee. Durbin told CNN on Monday that he expected Garland's nomination would be approved by his panel next Monday, and he expects the full Senate will confirm Garland later that week. He said Republicans have agreed not to delay next Monday's committee vote, which they can do for one week under the rules.