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Sen. Coons questions Biden’s attorney general nominee Merrick Garland on misinformation, policing reform 9/11-style commission

February 23, 2021

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, Judge Merrick Garland.

Senator Coons, co-chair of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, emphasized the importance of “protecting our citizens from gun violence, but also developing an environment where law enforcement is more transparent and accountable.” He used Delaware as an example of a state seeking law enforcement reform to ensure community trust, and asked Judge Garland about his views on body-worn cameras as a measure to promote trust between communities and law enforcement. Judge Garland stated that body-worn cameras are an “important tool for accountability.”

Regarding the role of the Department of Justice in examining misinformation and domestic terrorism through online platforms, Senator Coons asked, “Do you think the DOJ has a role to play in examining the role of misinformation and incitement online to contributing to violence, and that the DOJ has a role in working to help us develop reasonable solutions to this challenge?” Judge Garland responded, “I do think that an important part of the investigation of violent extremist groups is following their activities online and getting an idea of what kind of information, misinformation, is being put out. I look forward to talking more about this with you.”

In closing, Senator Coons asked whether a 9/11-style independent commission for the January 6th Capitol riots would help complement the Justice Department’s work and help improve understanding of the event. Judge Garland responded, “I do think the 9/11 Commission was very useful and very helpful in understanding what happened then and, of course, the Congress has full authority to conduct this kind of oversight investigation or to set up an independent commission. The only thing that I would ask, if I were confirmed, is that care be taken that it not – that commission’s investigation not interfere with our ability to prosecute individuals and entities that caused the storming of the Capitol. As you well know, this is a very sensitive issue about disclosing operations which are still in progress, disclosing our sources and methods and allowing people to testify in a way that then makes it impossible to prosecute them.”