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If Merrick Garland is confirmed by the Senate and becomes the next attorney general, his first priority, according to the testimony he offered on Monday, would be supervising “the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6.”
In both his prepared remarks and his answers to senators’ questions, Garland framed the siege as an attack on American democracy itself, and the job of the Department of Justice as “battling extremist attacks on our democratic institutions.”
He likened what motivated Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, whom he prosecuted for the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, to what prompted the January 6 attack. He traced the Justice Department’s mission to its origins during Reconstruction, when it successfully prosecuted members of the Ku Klux Klan.
This is the correct throughline to draw: From 2021 to 1995 to 1871, connecting the Capitol to Oklahoma City to South Carolina, where 150 years ago, after years of the Klan using violence to terrorize Black voters, disrupting elections with deadly force, the Department of Justice intervened.
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