Jan 7, 2021
Joe Biden Introduces DOJ Nominees, Merrick Garland Transcript
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris announced DOJ nominees on January 7, including Judge Merrick Garland as Attorney General of the United States. Biden also addressed the riot at the Capitol, calling participants “domestic terrorists.” Read the transcript of the press conference announcement here.
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Joe Biden: (00:01)
You’re all going to have a lot of questions, but I want to focus on the issue today, the judiciary, as well as we were talking about the Attorney General’s office. And so I’ll have plenty of time to ask the questions I know you desperately want to ask about everything from 25th Amendment on, but I’m not going to speak to that today. I want this to be the issue that we focus on because I think it’s so important. Yesterday, in my view, one of the darkest days in the history of our nation, an unprecedented assault on our democracy. An assault, literally, on the citadel of liberty, on the United States Capitol itself. An assault on the rule of law. An assault on the most sacred of American undertakings, ratifying the will of the people in choosing the leadership of their government. All of us here grieve the loss of life, grieve the desecration of the people’s house. What we witnessed yesterday was not dissent. It was not disorder. It was not protest. It was chaos. They weren’t protesters. Don’t dare call them protesters. They were a riotous mob. Insurrectionists. Domestic terrorists. It’s that basic. It’s that simple. And I wish we could say we couldn’t see it coming, but that isn’t true. We could see it coming.
Joe Biden: (01:52)
The past four years, we’ve had a president who’s made his contempt for our democracy, our constitution, the rule of law, clear in everything he has done. He unleashed an all-out assault on our institutions of our democracy from the outset. And yesterday was but the culmination of that unrelenting attack. He’s attacked the free press who dared to question his power, repeatedly calling the free press the enemy of the people. Language, at the time he first used it, I and others said has long been used by autocrats and dictators all over the world to hold onto power. The enemy of the people. Language that is being used now by autocrats and dictators across the world, only this time with the imperator of an outgoing President of the United States of America.
Joe Biden: (02:51)
He’s attacked our intelligence services, who dare tell the American people the truth about the effort of a foreign power to elect him four years ago, choosing instead to believe the word of Vladimir Putin over the word of those who’ve sworn their allegiance to this nation, many of whom had risked their lives in the service of this nation.
Joe Biden: (03:18)
He deployed the United States military, tear gassing peaceful protestors in pursuit of a photo opportunity in the service of his reelection, even holding the Bible upside down. The action that led to an apology from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and an outspoken denunciation of the use of military for domestic political purposes, from scores, scores of former military leaders and Secretaries of Defense, led by Secretary Cheney. He thought he could stack the courts with friendly judges who would support him no matter what, they were Trump judges, his judges. He went so far as to say he needed nine Justices on the Supreme court because he thought the election would end up in the Supreme Court and they would hand him the election.
Joe Biden: (04:20)
He was stunned, truly stunned, when the judges he appointed didn’t do his bidding and instead acted with integrity, following the constitution, upholding the rule of law, not just once or twice or three times, but over 60 times. Let me say it, over 60 times. In more than 60 cases, in state after state after state, and then at the Supreme Court judges, including people considered “his judges”, Trump judges, to use his words, looked at the allegations that Trump was making determined they were without any merit.
Joe Biden: (05:05)
Nothing was judged to put this election in question or doubt by any of these judges. You want to understand the importance of democratic institutions in this country, take a look at the judiciary in this nation. Take a look at the pressure it was just subjected to by a sitting president of the United States of America. At every level, the judiciary rose in the moment during this election, did its job, acted with complete fairness and impartiality, with complete honor and integrity. When history looks back in this moment that we’ve just passed through, I believe it will say our democracy survived in no small part because of the men and women who represent an independent judiciary in this nation. We owe them a deep, deep debt of gratitude.
Joe Biden: (06:02)
And then there’s the attack on the Department of justice, treating the Attorney General as his personal lawyer and the department as his personal law firm. Through it all, we would hear the same thing from this president, my generals, my judges, my Attorney General. And then yesterday, a culmination of an attack on our institutions of democracy. This time, the Congress itself. Inciting a mob to attack the Capitol, to threaten the elected representatives of the people of this nation, and even the vice president, to stop the Congress from ratifying the will of the American people in a just, completed, free and fair election.
Joe Biden: (06:51)
Trying to use a mob to silence the voices of nearly 160 million Americans who summoned the courage in the face of pandemic that threatened their health and their lives to cast that sacred ballot. I made it clear from the moment I entered this race that what I believe was at stake. I said there was nothing less at stake than who we are as a nation, what we stand for, what we believe, what we will be. At the center of that belief is one of the oldest principles this nation has long held, where our government of laws, not of men, not of the people, of laws. I said it many times in the campaign, our democratic institutions is not relics of another age, they’re what sets this nation apart. They’re the guardrails of our democracy. That’s why there is no president who is a King. No Congress that’s a House of Lords. A judiciary doesn’t serve the will of the president or exist to protect him or her. We have three co-equal branches of government. Co-equal. Our president is not above the law. Justice serves the people. It doesn’t protect the powerful. Justice is blind. What we saw yesterday, in plain view, was another violation of the fundamental tenet of this nation. Not only did we see the failure to protect one of the three branches of our government, we also saw a clear failure to carry out equal justice.
Joe Biden: (08:57)
[inaudible 00:08:57] used to say in the Senate, excuse a point of personal privilege. Well, over an hour and a half after the chaos started, I got a text from my granddaughter Finnegan Biden, who is a senior in her last semester at University of Pennsylvania. She sent me a photo of military people in full military gear, scores of them lining the steps of the Lincoln Memorial because of protest by Black Lives Matter. She said, “Pop, this isn’t fair.” No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that storm the Capitol. We all know that’s true and it is unacceptable. Totally unacceptable. The American people saw it in plain view. I hope it’s sensitizing what we have to do.
Joe Biden: (10:12)
Not many people know it, when Justice Garland and I were talking, we talked about, I think he raised it. The reason for the Justice Department’s forming in the first place. It was back in 1870. We didn’t have a Justice Department before that cabinet. It was formed in 1870 to enforce the civil rights amendment that grew out of the Civil War. The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments. To stand up to the Klan, to stand up to racism, to take on domestic terrorism. This original spirit must again guide and animate it’s work.
Joe Biden: (10:58)
So as we stand here today, we do so in the wake of yesterday’s events, events that could not more have vividly demonstrated some of the most important work we have to do in this nation. Committing ourselves to the rule of law in this nation. Invigorating our domestic and democratic institutions. Carrying out equal justice under the law in America. There is no more important place for us to do this work than the Department of Justice that has been so politicized. There’s no more important people to carry out this work than the people I’m announcing today. More than anything, we need to restore the honor, the integrity, the independence of Department of Justice in this nation that has been so badly damaged. And so many former leaders of that department in both parties have so testified and stated that.
Joe Biden: (12:05)
I want to be clear to those who lead this department, who you will serve. You won’t work for me. You are not the president or the vice president’s lawyer. Your loyalty is not to me. It’s to the law, the Constitution, the people of this nation, to guarantee justice. For Attorney General of the United States, I nominated a man of impeccable integrity, Judge Merrick Garland, one the most respected jurists of our time. Brilliant, yet humble. Distinguished, yet modest. Full of character and decency. The Supreme Court clerk served in the Justice Department during the Carter, Bush 41, and Clinton administrations, where he embraced the department’s core values of independence and integrity. A Federal prosecutor who took on terrorism and corruption and violent crime, always with the utmost professionalism and the duty to the oath he swore.
Joe Biden: (13:24)
Nominated by President Clinton to be a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, considered the second most powerful court in America. Throughout such a long and distinguished career, Judge Garland has earned the praise and admiration of members of bench and bar, and politicians of both parties. And despite his busy schedule and prestigious positions, he still makes time to volunteer regularly, tutoring students in Northeast DC, as he’s done for 20 years. It’s about character. It’s about character.
Joe Biden: (14:02)
… it’s about character, it’s about character. It was no surprise why President Obama nominated him, Judge Garland, to the Supreme Court. As I said he embodies honor, decency, integrity, fidelity to the rule of law and judicial independence. To those same traits, he will now bring as Attorney General of the United States, not as a personal attorney to the president, but as the peoples’ lawyer. He’ll restore trust in the rule of law and equal justice under the law. And I fully expect, in the discussions I’ve had, that he will receive a fair hearing and a swift confirmation. And once he’s confirmed, I will move promptly to nominate his replacement on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. I expect that the distinguished nominee will receive a prompt and fair hearing as well. For Deputy Attorney General, I nominate one of the most selfless people I’ve worked with, one of the brightest I’ve worked with. I worked with her during the last administration. A 15 year veteran of the Justice Department, Lisa Monaco. Lisa knows the department inside and out. She is a definition of what a public servant should be; decent, trusting, honorable. And I might add I embarrassed her a moment ago with her other colleagues, and selfless. I offered her other positions that are of “greater consequence,” more prestige. But she wanted to work with you, Judge. She wanted to go back to the Justice Department. A top [flight 00:15:47] prosecutor, took on public corruption, corporate fraud and violent crime. Chief of Staff to the Director of the FBI. The first woman ever confirmed as Assistant Attorney General for National Security, where she elevated cyber security to a top priority. And where it’s even more consequential today, than it was then.
Joe Biden: (16:13)
At the White House, she was the top Homeland Security and Counter Terrorism advisor to President Obama and me, at every one of the national security meetings. She coordinated our fight against Al-Qaeda and ISIL. She helped lead our response to the Ebola Crisis. When the bombs went off at the finish line on Patriot’s Day in Boston, her hometown, she coordinated the Federal Governments response with local and state law enforcement to get to the bottom of the horrible tragedy. Lisa, I know, I know you will help restore integrity and independence of the Department of Justice that you so revere.
Joe Biden: (16:57)
As Associate Attorney General, the number three job at the department, I nominate Vanita Gupta. A woman I’ve known for sometime. One of the most respected Civil Rights lawyers in America. Started a career at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Then onto to ACLU, both organizations to which I belong. And then to the Justice Department during the Obama-Biden administration, where she led the Civil Rights Division. At every step, with every case, she fought for greater equity and the right to right the wrongs of a justice system, where they existed. And she’s done so by bringing people together, earning praise from across the [etiological 00:17:51] spectrum for her approach to solving some of the thorniest problems we face.
Joe Biden: (17:57)
During the Obama-Biden administration, Vanita was put in charge of investigating the abuse of power in police departments in Ferguson, Missouri and other communities torn apart by acts of violence and racial injustice. She helped institute a common sense police reforms to build greater equity, safety, and trust. She was commended for her work by both law enforcement and those advocating for changes in the criminal justice system. That’s a rare achievement. And it speaks volumes about her capacity to unite people in common purpose, which is what this is all about. Uniting the American people.
Joe Biden: (18:43)
Born in Pennsylvania, a proud daughter of immigrants from India, that sound familiar?
Speaker 1: (18:53)
Joe Biden: (18:55)
If confirmed, Vanita will be the first woman of color to serve as Associate Attorney General. And I’m grateful, I’m grateful that Vanita is leaving her current job, leading one of the premier Civil Rights organizations in the world, as she answers the call to serve once again to ensure that our justice system is even more fair, and more equitable. Thank you.
Joe Biden: (19:22)
For Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, I nominate Kristen Clarke who has spent her career advocating for greater equality and equity in our justice system. The daughter of Jamaican immigrants. Now don’t think this has been designed here. I’m still looking for an Irishman. All kidding aside, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, Kristen is also one of the most distinguished Civil Rights Attorneys in America. A proud native of Brooklyn, New York, she began her legal career in the very same office she’s now nominated to lead. Her previous tenure with the Justice Department saw her take on some of the most complex Civil Rights cases, from voting rights, to redistricting challenges, to prosecuting hate crimes and human trafficking. She’s earned accolades throughout her career, including as the head of the Civil Rights Bureau for her home state of New York, where she’s led the charge to end the school to prison pipeline and root out discrimination in housing and in law enforcement. She currently leads one of the nations top Civil Rights organizations, where she promotes greater equity, and voting rights, in our education system, in our housing system, in our justice system, and so much more.
Joe Biden: (20:51)
Now, she’ll return full circle to pursue the vital work where her career began. The Civil Rights division represents the moral center of the Department of Justice. And the heart of that fundamental American ideal that we’re all created equal and all deserve to be treated equally. I’m honored you accepted the call to return to make real the promise for all Americans.
Joe Biden: (21:23)
To each of you, I thank you for your service, and to your families. And to the American people, this is a team that will restore your trust and faith in our institutions democracy. I chaired the judiciary committee for many years. One of my goals in running in the first place, you may recall, I said when I saw those people coming out of the fields on Charlottesville shouting hate, a young woman killed. And when asked the president said they there are good people on both sides. That’s literally why I ran. There’s no more important and heartfelt effort on my part than restoring, restoring the independence and integrity of our justice department.
Joe Biden: (22:26)
So may God bless you all. May God protect our troops and those who are sworn to protect the American people. Now I will turn it over to the team, starting with the next Attorney General of the United States, Judge Merrick Garland. Thank you.
Merrick Garland: (23:06)
Thank you President Elect Biden, Vice President Elect Harris, for asking me to serve as the Attorney General of the United States. Thanks always to my wife, children, sisters, late parents, without who’s unstinting support I would not be standing here today. Thanks also to my grandparents who’s decision to undertake the difficult journey to America made all things possible for my family.
Merrick Garland: (23:39)
If confirmed, I look forward to working with these wonderful DOJ veterans. Lisa Monaco, Vanita Gupta, and Kristen Clarke. Entering the Department of Justice will be a kind of homecoming for me. My very first job after serving as a judicial law clerk was to work as a special assistant to then Attorney General Ben Civiletti. Ed Levi, and Griffin Bell the first Attorneys General appointed after Watergate had enunciated the norms that would ensure the departments’ adherence to the rule of law. Attorney General Civiletti undertook to continue their work of crafting those norms into written policies.
Merrick Garland: (24:25)
Those policies included; guaranteeing the independence of the department from partisan influence and law enforcement investigations, regulating communications with the White House, establishing guidelines for FBI investigations, ensuring respect for the professionalism of DOJ’s lawyers and agents, and setting our principles to guide the exercise of prosecutorial discretion. Those policies became part of the DNA of every career lawyer and agent.
Merrick Garland: (25:03)
If confirmed, my mission as Attorney General will be to reaffirm those policies as the principles upon which the department operates. As Ed Levi said at his own swearing in, “Nothing can more weaken the quality of life, or more imperil the realization of the goals we all hold dear, than our failure to make clear by words and deed that our law is not the instrument of partisan purpose.”
Merrick Garland: (25:35)
In the decades that followed my first tour of duty at the department, I returned again and again in different roles. As a career line Assistant U.S. Attorney, as a Criminal Division Supervisor, and finally as a Senior Official in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General. In the latter role, I worked with every component of the department. On issues ranging from Civil Rights and antitrust, to domestic terrorism and national security. I also worked directly with line prosecutors and agents in offices from Oklahoma City to Billings, Montana. From Sacramento, California, to New York City.
Merrick Garland: (26:20)
Attorney General, later Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson famously said, “The citizens safety lies in the prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, who seeks truth and not victims, who serves the law and not factional purposes, and who approaches his job with humility.” That was the kind of prosector I tried to be during my years of service at DOJ.
Merrick Garland: (26:51)
In 1997, I left the department to serve the cause of justice in another role, as a judge. I have loved being a judge. But to serve as Attorney General at this critical time, to lead the more than 113,000 dedicated men and women who work at the department to ensure the role of law, is a calling I am honored and eager to answer.
Merrick Garland: (27:24)
As everyone who watched yesterdays events in Washington now understands, if they did not understand before, the rule of law is not just some lawyers turn of phrase. It is the very foundation of our democracy. The essence of the rule of law is that like cases are treated alike. That there not be one rule for Democrats, and another for Republicans, one rule for friends, another for foes, one rule for the powerful, another for the powerless, one-
Merrick Garland: (28:03)
… for the powerful, another for the powerless. One rule for the rich and another for the poor, or different rules, depending upon one’s race or ethnicity. And the essence of its great corollary, equal justice under law is that all citizens are protected in the exercise of their civil rights. Those ideals have animated the department of justice since the very moment of its inception. As President-elect Biden, just recounted the department was founded in the midst of reconstruction, following the Civil War, with its first principle task to ensure compliance with the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.
Merrick Garland: (28:53)
As historian Ron Chernow wrote, “The new Justice Department would forge its identity in the battle to slay the first incarnation of the KU Klux Klan and its offshoots.” In that battle, the department successfully deployed its considerable resources to ensure civil rights, which were under militant attack. These principles, ensuring the rule of law and making the promise of equal justice under law real are the great principles upon which the department of justice was founded and for which it must always stand.
Merrick Garland: (29:35)
They echo today in the priorities that lie before us. From ensuring racial equity in our justice system to meeting the evolving threat of violent extremism. If confirmed, those are the principles to which I will be devoted as attorney general. President-elect Biden understands this as he said today. And as he has publicly said before, “It’s not my Justice Department, it’s the people’s Justice Department.” He promised that the person he chose to lead the department would have the, “Independent capacity to decide who gets prosecuted and who doesn’t.” Vice-president elect Harris has also publicly stated, “Any decision coming out of the Justice Department should be based on facts, should be based on the law. It should not be based on politics period.” I could not agree more. And I would not have agreed to be considered for attorney general under any other conditions. So thank you both for giving me the opportunity to serve.
Kamala Harris: (31:25)
Mr. President-elect, madam vice-president elect, thank you for this opportunity to return to the Department of Justice and to work alongside this incredible team on behalf of the American people. I also want to thank my family for their love and support, and especially my parents for their lessons, large and small, in what it means to live one’s values. It’s fair to say that I grew up in the Justice Department. It was my privilege for 15 years to serve that institution and to learn so much from its extraordinary people. To learn what it means to be a lawyer in public service. And over the years, I have worn many hats. As a career prosecutor, as a senior official in the FBI and as a leader of the National Security Division. But it was as an assistant US attorney that I learned the Justice Department’s values.
Kamala Harris: (32:38)
I worked directly with communities and victims of crime, and I felt the weight of a prosecutor’s responsibility to ensure not that cases are won, but that justice is done, and that each individual defendant’s rights are protected. These experiences forged in me, a reverence for the Department of Justice as an institution for its people, for its mission, for the enduring values that it represents. The protection of civil rights and civil liberties, safeguarding the public from threats of all kinds and upholding the rule of law. Merrick’s mention of former Attorney General Edward Levy calls to mind. One of my earliest memories as a DOJ lawyer. My first job in the department was as counsel to Janet Reno, the first woman attorney general, a mentor to me and a trailblazer. In the conference room outside her office, she hung a portrait of Ed Levy, a tribute to his role in reaffirming the integrity and independence of the institution after Watergate.
Kamala Harris: (33:58)
And I think she hung that portrait as a testament of sorts to the fact that we are all temporary custodians of the institution. The story goes that when President Ford asked Levy what he thought the department needed most in those days of flagging faith in institutions, Levy responded, “A soul.” Well, the soul of the Justice Department lives in the integrity of its career professionals, in the independence of its investigations and prosecutions and in the principles it brings to bear as it stewards the ideal of justice in America. Today, we are at another inflection point. Some of the challenges we face are familiar. Racial inequality, the need for criminal justice reform, domestic terrorism and threats to public safety. Some of the tasks are enduring, like the importance of working closely with law enforcement to ensure public safety and to build trust in our communities. Some of the challenges are evolving, like mounting cyber threats.
Kamala Harris: (35:21)
I’m confident that the Department of Justice is up to all of these challenges. But what is most critical I think in the days ahead is not actually a challenge at all, but an opportunity. For this team and for the career professionals who make up the Justice Department to reaffirm its norms and traditions. To do justice without fear or favor, to keep the American people safe and to do so always consistent with the rule of law. If confirmed, it will be my honor to once again, work alongside the women and men of the Justice Department as custodians of a remarkable and durable institution. Mr. president-elect, madam vice-president elect, thank you for the opportunity to return home to the Department of Justice.
Speaker 2: (36:39)
Mr. president-elect, madam vice president, thank you for the opportunity to serve this nation. I want to thank my family and my parents who taught me early on the values that have led me to civil rights work in public service. I am humbled and honored to return to the Department of Justice. It is an institution that I love so, so dearly. And to once again work alongside the exceptional women and men, who every day defend the constitution, enforce our federal laws and seek to create a more perfect do union with deep integrity and without political interference. There are many agencies in the federal government, but actually only one that bears the name of a value. By virtue of that name, that value of justice, we know the department carries a unique charge and North Star. At its best. It is the keeper of a sacred promise.
Speaker 2: (37:45)
It’s the promise of equal justice for all. That no one is above the law. And when this promise is pursued with vigor, it brings light to our nation and serves as a beacon to the world. But when abandoned, we degrade our democracy, and sew the division that we’ve come to know all too well. The first time I felt the absence of that promise was as a four year old child, one of my earliest memories. My parents were proud immigrants from India, an opportunity that was made possible by the civil rights movement and the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. One day I was sitting in a McDonald’s restaurant with my sister, mother, and grandmother. And as we ate our meals, a group of skinheads at the next table began shouting ethnic slurs at us, throwing food at us until we had to leave the restaurant. It is an early memory, but one that is seared in my mind. That feeling never left me of what it means to be made to feel unsafe because of who you are.
Speaker 2: (38:52)
I kept another feeling with me though, too. And that is one that has been ingrained in me by my parents and shared by my husband, whose family fled violence and war in Vietnam and sought refuge on these shores. They believed more than anything in the promise of America, and that loving this country brings with it the obligation to do the necessary work to make it better. Those two feelings for me, converge in the work ahead of us. Yesterday’s horrific events at the Capitol reminded us that our democracy cannot be taken for granted, that our nation has a long history of disinformation, white supremacist violence, mob violence. It also reminded us that our values and our constitution and our democracy, these do not protect themselves, it is people with courage who do that. And I am honored to return to a department that I will push every day for justice, accountability and equality under the law. It will not be enough to restore what has been undermined or lost. This moment demands bold leadership. The Department of Justice, as it has done throughout its storied history will have to uncover and reckon with hard truths, hold people, companies, and institutions accountable to our constitution and laws, drive change where there is injustice and heal a nation that is starving for leadership and decency and hope. Now is the time to ensure that our economic system works for everyone, that we can protect the health and safety of all of the American people, and that we will harness all of the Justice Department’s levers for civil rights, justice and police reform and climate justice and so much more.
Speaker 2: (40:49)
As the late Congressman John Lewis said, “Democracy is not a state, it is an act.” And I pledge to the American people that if confirmed, I will act for justice every day. I pledge that to you, president-elect, I pledge that to you, vice-president elect. I am honored, deeply honored for the chance to work together with activists for justice, with law enforcement, with this extraordinary team that I’m so humbled to serve, with the incredible women and men at the Justice Department to strengthen our democracy and to make equal justice under law a real promise for all. Thank you so much for this opportunity.
Speaker 3: (41:54)
Mr. President-elect, madam vice-president elect, it’s an honor, and a privilege to be nominated to return to the Department-
Speaker 3: (42:03)
… honor and a privilege to be nominated to return to the Department of Justice and serve the American people at this critical moment in our democracy. I am humbled and exceedingly proud to join the remarkable team that you have put together to pursue the urgent timeless cause of equal justice under law. I stand here today deeply inspired by the example of the late Thurgood Marshall, Constance Baker Motley, and other public servants who dedicated their lives to advancing the cause of justice. We are at a crossroads. If I’m fortunate enough to be confirmed, we will turn the page on hate and closed the door on discrimination by enforcing our federal civil rights laws.
Speaker 3: (42:59)
Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, my parents instilled in me an unrelenting belief in the principles of hard work and respect for the dignity and humanity of all people. I am deeply thankful full for the trail that my parents blazed. And today, I’m thinking about the pride that I know my mother Pansy, my brother Troy, my sister Karen, and my partner Mustafa are feeling as I take on this challenging new opportunity. As a mom myself now, I see the future of America through the eyes of my son, and honestly, at times I am worried. Will he have full and equal access to the extraordinary opportunities of American life? Will he be able to embrace those opportunities in safety and dignity? Will all of America’s children? Every parent lays awake some nights asking these same questions. I know that my own parents did. I was fortunate to benefit from amazing educational opportunities and plenty of lucky breaks that opened doors for me.
Speaker 3: (44:18)
But I knew then as I know today that not everyone is blessed with the opportunities that I enjoyed and that awareness has animated my life’s work. It’s what brought me to the Department of Justice where I started my career and it’s what brings me back for this homecoming today. The Department, and especially the Civil Rights Division has always occupied a special place in my heart. The clarion call of equal justice under law is what binds us together as a nation. Now, it’s my honor to return to work alongside the dedicated career professionals who give of themselves every day to make that principle real in the lives of families like mine, in my son’s life, and in the lives of all of our sons and daughters. I know the passion and fearlessness that both the President-Elect and the Vice President-Elect bring to the work before us to restore justice, to heal our nation, and to move us closer to that ideal of equal justice. I’m humbled, honored, and eager to work with them and with this team. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to serve my country as a member of your administration.
Kamala Harris: (46:13)
One of the fundamental principles upon which America’s democracy rests, a principle as sacred as a civic value can be is fidelity to the rule of law. In times of stability, that principle can seem abstract, like something out of a legal textbook that isn’t relevant to our daily lives. But in times of upheaval, we come to realize, to appreciate just how vital the rule of law truly is. What we saw yesterday in our nation’s Capitol was, as the President-Elect has called it, an assault on the rule of law and it has no place in our democracy. So I believe we must ask ourselves two questions about what happened yesterday, what went wrong, and how do we make it right? And I believe the answers require us to recognize that the challenge we’re facing in our country is about more than the actions of the few we watched yesterday.
Kamala Harris: (47:32)
It’s about how to reform, how to transform a justice system that does not work equally for all, a justice system that is experienced differently, depending on whether you’re White or Black, a justice system that is experienced differently if you’re rich or poor, a justice system that’s different depending on whether your job requires you to take a shower before you go to work or requires you to take a shower when you come home after work. We witnessed two systems of justice when we saw one that let extremists storm the United States Capitol, and another that released tear gas on peaceful protesters last summer. The American people have expressed rightly outrage. We know this is unacceptable. We know we should be better than this. The promise of our country is that all people will be treated equally. That’s what the rule of law is supposed to be about. That’s what the ideal of equal justice under law is all about.
Kamala Harris: (49:09)
Like everyone here, I’ve dedicated my career to helping uphold those principles, to attempting to uphold those principles, to helping build a more just and equal America, whether it was as San Francisco’s District Attorney or California’s Attorney General or a United States Senator. And that’s what I have pledged to the President- Elect that I will do as Vice President. The public servants we are announcing today have also dedicated themselves to building a more just and equal America and the roles they will assume are some of the most important in our country, and especially right now. They will be responsible for pursuing justice and ensuring that all Americans are treated equally. They will be the guardians of our justice system. They will have the power to enforce our laws in a more fair and more humane manner, while also holding those who violate the law accountable, whether they be ordinary citizens or law enforcement.
Kamala Harris: (50:21)
They will help protect the rights of every voter in our country no matter what their background or where they live and they will restore integrity and independence to the Department of Justice and rebuild the American people’s trust in that most sacred institution. And I know they will do this because these nominees have the experience, the judgment, and moral compass that these roles demand, as well as an abiding commitment to supporting and defending the constitution of the United States of America. For many centuries, the ideal of justice has been symbolized as a woman blindfolded with a scale in her hands. There is a reason the eyes of that lady justice are covered. It’s because our belief in what a system of justice is says that it should not depend, justice should not depend on how you look, on the color of your skin, on how much money you make.
Kamala Harris: (51:36)
It shouldn’t depend on where you were born or the language your grandmother speaks or what political party you belong to. Justice should be impartial. It should be fair. It should be applied equally. And President-Elect Biden and I, along with this incredible team, will help to make sure it is while restoring and strengthening the rule of law that has always been and always will be the bedrock of America’s democracy. Thank you, Mr. President-Elect.
Speaker 4: (52:16)
Should Trump be prosecuted for inciting a riot?
Speaker 5: (52:19)
Have you spoken to Mike Pence?
Speaker 6: (52:19)
He should be removed.
Speaker 7: (52:19)
Technical pool, travel pool, we need to load. Let’s go, guys. Let’s load. Let’s go.