Merrick Garland took the oath of office of attorney general, administered by Vice President Kamala Harris, on a day when he said he would prioritize restoring the department’s reputation for political independence, along with ensuring equal justice.
Watch the event in the player above.
Garland heads the Justice Department after a tumultuous four years under former President Donald Trump.
Hours before taking the oath, Garland signaled in his first address to staff – a formal, 10-minute speech inside the Great Hall at Justice Department headquarters, the department would return to its normal traditions away from the political sphere. President Joe Biden has also insisted the same.
Try though he may to stay out of politics, Garland is facing some immediate political challenges, including overseeing the ongoing criminal tax investigation into Biden’s son, Hunter, and the investigations and prosecutions stemming from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol when thousands of pro-Trump rioters stormed the building to halt the certification of the election results.
The Justice Department also has an ongoing federal probe into the overseas and business dealings of the former New York City mayor and Trump ally Rudy Giuliani, which stalled last year over a dispute about investigative tactics as Trump unsuccessfully sought reelection.
Garland will also have to decide how to handle a special counsel investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, which shadowed Trump’s presidency for more than two years, and remains ongoing.