Merrick Garland, President Joe Biden’s nominee for attorney general, said he’s not aware of evidence of large-scale voter fraud in U.S. elections, while acknowledging limited instances.
“There have been documented, isolated instances of voter fraud,” Garland said in written answers submitted late Sunday to questions from senators considering his nomination. “Fortunately, I have not seen evidence of widespread voter fraud.”
Garland also said he has no reason to question former Attorney General William Barr’s statement that an investigation by the Justice Department didn’t uncover fraud at a level that would have affected the outcome of November’s presidential election.
The nominee’s responses were filed as former President Donald Trump was speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he renewed false claims that massive voter fraud cost him reelection.
That contention helped fuel the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, staged by Trump supporters looking to stop Joe Biden’s win from being certified by Congress.
If confirmed, Garland will continue to deal with claims that the 2020 election was stolen and with disputes over protecting voting rights, including efforts by state governments to enact new laws that critics say will make it more difficult for minorities to vote.
“I believe the Department of Justice plays a pivotal role in protecting the right to vote and ensuring that elections are not influenced by fraud,” Garland said.
Garland’s answers to questions for the record — about 160 pages long — clear the way for the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote Monday on his nomination, which is expected to be followed later in the week by the full Senate. Key Republicans have said they will join Democrats in voting to confirm him.
In his responses, Garland, a federal appeals court judge, also said that if confirmed:
The department’s civil rights divisions will play a role in priorities “such as battling the threat of domestic violent extremism through hate crime prosecutions, protecting the right to vote, addressing police departments that engage in unconstitutional patterns or practices and helping them to reform and combating discrimination in housing, to name a few.” He will work “with the Antitrust Division to reinforce and strengthen” cooperation with “counterparts around the world through both bilateral relationships and participation in international organizations.
Story by Chris Strohm.