ICYMI: Your TPM Weekend News Roundup

February 26, 2021 5:28 p.m.

Merrick Garland Gets A Hearing

  • After Republicans successfully stonewalled his nomination to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland finally got a confirmation hearing on Monday — to be attorney general in President Biden’s administration.
  • Senate Judiciary Committee chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) acknowledged Garland’s long road to appearing before the Senate. “I know this return trip has been a long time in planning, and you’re here finally,” he said with a grin.
  • One of the key moments of the hearing came when Garland laid out his approach for the DOJ’s response to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Garland said he saw the violent episode as more than a “one-off” and said the department must combat extremist groups in the U.S. Garland did not rule out prosecuting those who incited the riot but may not have physically stormed the building.
  • Throughout the hearing, Garland demonstrated how his nomination is impervious to GOP culture war attacks. Asked about the progressive push to defund police departments, Garland brushed off the potential landmine: “[President Joe Biden] does not support defunding the police and neither do I,” Garland said.

Hit-And-Run AG Story Heats Up

  • Last week, South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg was charged with three misdemeanors related to a September incident in which the official fatally struck a pedestrian with his car. This week, he faced an impeachment push supported by Republicans and Democrats.
  • South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) has called on Ravnsborg to resign.
  • On Tuesday evening, damning new videos of Ravnsborg’s interviews with investigators were released. In one of the two interview videos released by South Dakota’s Department of Public Safety on Tuesday, officials point out the struck man’s glasses were found in Ravnsborg’s car. “His face was in your windshield, Jason. Think about that,” one of the investigators said.
  • Cristina Cabrera, who has been all over this story for us at TPM, laid out some of the other damning details contained in the three hours of interviews (Prime membership required).

Current And Former Capitol Security Officials Testify

  • This week, we got the first public comments from officials in charge of security at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Much remains unknown about the events of that day, however.
  • Former Capitol Police Chief Stephen Sund told senators during a hearing on Tuesday that he did not see an FBI report issued on Jan. 5 that warned of “war.”
  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) used his time not to get to the bottom of the insurrection, but rather to read a conspiracy-laden column alleging that Antifa was behind the violent scene.
  • At a House hearing focused on the security lapses Thursday, we learned that some of the militia members present at the Jan. 6 insurrection are making threats around President Biden’s first joint address to Congress.
  • The communications director for Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), who chaired the Thursday hearing, shared a tantalizing piece of new information with TPM: security videos related to rioters possibly being given “reconnaissance” Capitol tours before the January 6 attack have been turned over to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
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