Confirmation hearing for attorney general nominee Merrick Garland begins

An emotional Garland talks about his immigrant family and how he feels an obligation to give back to the U.S. as attorney general.
4:58 | 02/22/21

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Transcript for Confirmation hearing for attorney general nominee Merrick Garland begins
With the confirmation hearing for president Biden's nominee for attorney general. Judge Merrick Garland who President Obama once nominated for the Supreme Court has spent the day taking questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here's a look at some of the highlights so far. Unit of the department is clearly in the hands of the next attorney general I can assure you I do not regard myself as so anything other. Then the lawyer for the people of the United States. Austin and Portland ordered house against artist. Any attack kind of federal building or damage to a federal building violates. The federal statutes. And those who do it will be prosecuted. Our grandparents fled anti semitism persecution. Country took a CN. And protect us and I feel an obligation to the country to pay back. And since the hype this best use of my own set of skills to pay back. And so I want pretty much be the kind of tort attorney general that you're. Saying I could become. An emotional judge Merrick Garland there during his confirmation hearings today let's bring in ABC news political director Rick Klein. For more on how things are going Rick and keeping the Justice Department free from political interference has been a big theme today. What are the concerns on both sides there and how has Garland respondents those questions. It has been questioning from both sides and it's just someone indication of the baggage that. I judge Garland would inherit if he's confirmed as attorney general as expected. There are Republicans who are still concerned about Obama and era scandals. Involving the politicization of justice and in their view and of course the whole loads of investigations left over from the truck are reaching from the did he origins of the Russian probe are right through Hunter Biden the president's son. And of course his handling of the January 6 riots and investigations that may. Involved directly president try ITC judge Garland I think cognizant of the moment cognizance of the politics and trying to do an appeal to some common law lawmakers. Mean in trying to signal that he understands how this works and saying flatly that he was ordered to do something that he thought was an appropriate he would resign he's not gonna allow for this is a nation or any kind of political bullying. Clancy's decision making battle Republicans believing him at his word and that's that's the statement that he's not ready parent and deliberate act. Rick systematic racism are systemic racism rather and inequality in the justice system is something president Biden has long lynch he wants his attorney general to address so what are we learned about garlands priorities. In his hearing so far. Yeah he's he's addressing them head on talk about the roots of the of the department decades ago in in combating racism money in establishing how your priorities around civil rights and civil rights division I saint directly that he thinks there is systemic racism I got some sharp questioning from Republicans about what that means including what senators has over you basically calling. I anyone anyone in this sanity and a racist. But he understands I think the priorities here and they are fighting priorities and I'd also note that up president Biden got a lot of pressure to to appoint an attorney general color I think it is important message for merit Garland has as a white American -- and as a federal judge to to show that he gets it in the years it and that he's going to invigorate his Justice Department with policies whether it's around sentencing reform or marijuana legalization or the death penalty all of those things I think feeding tube that the broader rubric of civil rights and those and of equal justice including. Taking on some of these issues of racial tension had a law. And Rick Carlin called the January 6. Insurrection crawl the most heinous attack on a democratic processes. He that he's ever seen so where do you expect. He'll take the investigation. That attack based on what he said in this hearing and also his background on domestic terror cases. Yeah he is saying its is number one priority the first briefing he intensely yet. After he's confirmed and he's saying that he would take on this investigation directly and critically follow it upstream in which is to say not just go after prosecute the individuals that the capital a look at who their funders war look at the rhetoric that may have led to a and whether that includes president trump or not of course is going to be a huge question and not something the judge Garland is prepared to answer I'll without getting those kinds of briefings. But I do think that these hearings of the Oklahoma City in a long before we knew him as the failed nominee for the Supreme Court on Republicans wouldn't even give him a hearing under President Obama he was known nationally as the chief prosecutor of those Oklahoma City bombings he has talked at length about the told that took on his personal life at that time young children how difficult those prosecutions war I how determined he was to see them all the way through and yes he's gonna take this is always is a more complicated issue because you have so many individuals who were involved in that attack at the capitol and judge Garland making very very clear today that he found it in his words to be a heinous attacks. It is our principles Rooney of the Justice Department from ABC political director Rick Klein thanks Rick.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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