In his first remarks as President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for attorney general, Judge Merrick Garland pledged Thursday to restore the independence and integrity of the Justice Department, vowing a return to post-Watergate reforms against political influence that observers contend have eroded under the Trump presidency.

“Those policies became part of the DNA of every career lawyer and agent. If confirmed, my mission as attorney general will be to reaffirm those policies as the principles upon which the department operates,” said Garland, who has served on the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit since 1997 and earlier worked at the Justice Department in the Bill Clinton administration.

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