Following his predecessor’s acquittal earlier this month in a Senate impeachment trial, the congressional confirmation process continues for President Joe Biden’s picks to fill top roles within his administration.
In an appearance before senators this week, Merrick Garland, Biden’s pick to be attorney general, provided some uninspiring responses — including to a question about how Mexican drug cartels exploit U.S. asylum laws to make cross-border smuggling easier.
Sen. Graham presses Garland
Garland, who had been nominated by former President Barack Obama to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, offered a number of less than forthcoming answers to inquiries by GOP lawmakers during his Senate confirmation hearing on Monday.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), for example, confirmed that Garland had not personally visited the U.S.-Mexico border before sharing one tactic reportedly used by cartels to sneak into the nation illegally.
The senator explained that criminals are said to gather up groups of migrants who then “rush” the border at the same time in one concentrated area, only to seek asylum when ultimately apprehended by border patrol agents.
Such activity is allegedly intended to attract resources away from other areas along the border, decreasing the likelihood that drug smugglers and human traffickers would be detected and caught.
For his part, however, Garland could not provide a direct response because he claimed to have never heard of the phenomenon.
“The poison they put into our streets”
“I have not known about this and I will certainly look into this problem,” he said.
Nevertheless, Garland did go on to describe drug cartels as “a major menace to our society,” adding that “the poison they put into our streets is damaging communities of every kind.”
His response was cut short by Graham, who encouraged the nominee to visit the border soon to gain first-hand knowledge of what is actually happening.
Of course, Fox News noted that this was not the only issue about which Garland sought to dodge direct answers. He also skirted a question about whether unauthorized border crossings were even a crime, whether female sports leagues should be required to accept transgender athletes, and whether he would allow special counsel John Durham to complete an ongoing probe into the origins of the largely debunked probe of alleged Russian collusion in the 2016 Trump campaign.
Garland did, however, make it clear that he would prioritize an investigation into the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill, which he represented a “more dangerous period” than the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City.