AG Garland to tell lawmakers that attack on U.S. Capitol was 'intolerable assault' on democracy

Attorney General Merrick Garland will tell the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday that federal prosecutors “are doing exactly what they are expected to do” in investigating the Jan. 6 pro-Trump attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“The Justice Department has undertaken an extraordinary effort to ensure that the perpetrators of criminal acts on Jan. 6 are held accountable,” Mr. Garland said in his prepared remarks.

He called the attack on the Capitol “an intolerable assault, not only on the Capitol and the brave law enforcement personnel who sought to protect it, but also on a fundamental element of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power.”

Allies of former President Donald Trump, including Republican lawmakers, have criticized the Justice Department’s treatment of people charged with crimes in the riot.

The session is Mr. Garland’s first appearance before the committee.

GOP lawmakers also are expected to grill Mr. Garland on his memo this month announcing that the FBI would investigate threats or intimidation by parents against school boards across the U.S. The attorney general didn’t mention the controversy in his opening statement.

In the Oct. 4 memo, Mr. Garland described a need to address the “disturbing spike” in threats of violence, harassment and intimidation against school officials in recent months.

His call to action came days after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter to President Biden asking for federal law enforcement to investigate and prevent the threats and attacks.

“As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes,” the NSBA wrote.

The association said there have been “attacks” against school board members and educators who approved coronavirus-related mask policies and many are facing physical threats linked to the fight over teaching critical race theory in the schools.

The NSBA asked the federal government to “examine appropriate enforceable actions against these crimes and acts of violence” under the Patriot Act in regard to domestic terrorism and other federal laws.

Regarding the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol, Mr. Garland said in his 12-page opening statement that, to date, 55 of 56 FBI field offices have opened investigations.

“Citizens from across the country have provided more than 200,000 digital media tips, and the FBI continues to request the public’s assistance in identifying individuals sought in connection to the Jan. 6 attack,” he said in the prepared remarks. “And in less than 300 days, approximately 650 defendants have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for their roles in the attack.”

On cybersecurity, Mr. Garland said the FBI is investigating more 100 different types of ransomware, “each of them with scores of victims.”

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