Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s attorney general nominee, repeatedly avoided providing direct answers to questions from Republican senators during Monday’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Garland dodged questions about the Durham investigation into the Trump-Russia probe origins, transgender athletes in high school sports and whether crossing the border illegally should be a criminal offense.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-MO, asked Garland whether he belives that illegally crossing the border should remain a crime.
“I haven’t thought about that question, I just haven’t thought about that question” Garland said. “The president has made clear that we are a nation with borders, with national security, I don’t know of a proposal to decriminalize but still make it unlawful to answer, I just haven’t thought about it.”
Garland similarly declined to make a firm commital to leaving Special Counsel John Durham in place to continue his investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe. Garland said he has “no reason” to think that leaving Durham in place to continue his investigation was the wrong decision, but declined to commit to a course of action.
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Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., pushed Garland to say whether or not Durham’s investigation is legitimate, prompting the nominee to say: “I don’t know really anything about the investigation.”
“I do think that somebody should look at what happened with respect to those FISAs and I believe the inspector general has done that,” Garland added.
Garland was also asked about allowing biologically male athletes who identify as transgender to compete in female athletic competitions.
Sen. John Kennedy, R-LA, asked Garland if he agrees with the statement that “Allowing biological males to compete in an all-female sport deprives women of the opportunity to participate fully and fairly in sports and is fundamentally unfair to female athletes.”
Garland declined to directly answer Kennedy’s question directly. “This is a very difficult societal question that you’re asking me here, I know what underlies it,” Garland began his answer.
“I know, but you’re going to be attorney general,” Kennedy shot back.
“Well, but I may not be the one who has to make policy decisions like that, not that I’m adverse to it. Look, I think every human being should be treated with dignity and respect. And that’s an overriding sense of my own character, but an overriding sense of what the law requires,” Garland answered.
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“The particular question of how Title IX applies in schools is one that, in light of the Bostock case, which I know you’re very familiar with, is something that I would have to look at when i have a chance to do that. I have not had the chance to consider these kind of issues in my career so far, but I agree that this is a difficult question,” Garland answered.
President Biden signed an executive order his first day in office that called on schools to allow transgender athletes to compete on girls sports teams.