February 21, 2021

MAN MEETS MOMENT:

Merrick Garland's long wait is over but his problems are just starting (David Smith, 21 Feb 2021, The Guardian)

Garland will inherit a justice department battered by Trump, who undermined its independence, weakened its civil rights enforcement and repeatedly accused employees of working for the "deep state". The political moderate will also walk into the crossfire of hyper-partisan Washington.

Fallone added: "He's going to inherit a demoralised justice department in terms of staff. He's going to have to try to get the career people back on track. It's also a staff that's been hit very hard by departures so he's going to have to ramp up the hiring and bring on good people.

"He's the best attorney general Republicans could hope for in terms of potential nominees because of his reputation for integrity and fairness but he'll never satisfy them. And he's never going to satisfy the progressive wing of the Democratic party in particular on issues relating to police misconduct and voting rights. They're going to want a much more muscular attorney general than I think is in Merrick Garland's DNA."

Merrick Garland's 'flawless' work in Oklahoma City crucial in white supremacy fight (Tom McCarthy, 1 Feb 2021, The Guardian)

Now, after 23 years as one of the country's top appeals court judges, Garland, 68, is once again returning to a lead prosecutor role, tapped by Joe Biden to run the justice department as attorney general - with the threat from anti-government extremists again on the agenda.

"We had tremendous confidence in him, and I think his handling of that very challenging situation was flawless," said Jamie Gorelick, Garland's boss at the time of the Oklahoma City attack and one of the country's longest-serving deputy attorneys general. "If you look at his background, he was very well suited for working both with the FBI and the other investigative agencies, and well-regarded by all of them, and he had a wonderful way of bringing people together on the ground."

Stewing in pernicious lies about election fraud spread by Donald Trump, the United States is once again facing a rising threat of violence from anti-Washington extremists and white supremacists, according to a rare bulletin warning issued last week by the Department of Homeland Security - and the Oklahoma City attack is riding high in some minds.

"The Oklahoma City bombing and its legacy are critical to understanding the domestic extremist movements of today," the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report last year.

In spite of his being the target of an infamous Republican stunt four years ago that blocked his nomination to the US supreme court, Garland is expected to be confirmed by the US Senate as attorney general in the coming weeks.

People who know Garland from his work in Oklahoma believe that the country could have no better ally in the fight against homegrown extremism, a broad job whose challenges include not only prosecuting the recent insurrectionists but also preventing the next attack, disrupting extremist groups on social media, rooting out white supremacists from police forces and the military, and restoring public trust in the rule of law.

Posted by at February 21, 2021 12:00 AM

  

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