Attorney General Merrick Garland defended the U.S. Justice Department’s handling of cases arising from the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol on Monday, saying criticism that the government is being too lenient or too harsh is “part of the territory” for federal prosecutors. 

Garland’s remarks came in an interview with reporter Jane Mayer that was streamed online as part of the New Yorker Festival. The Justice Department has been questioned in recent months, including by some judges presiding over Jan. 6 cases, for its pattern of cutting plea deals with nonviolent offenders who breached the Capitol that allow them to avoid jail sentences. Earlier Monday, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan of the District of Columbia rebuffed prosecutors’ request for a sentence of home confinement in a Jan. 6 case, saying it didn’t reflect the “gravity of the attack.”

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