Attorney General Merrick Garland defended himself against accusations from Republican lawmakers on Thursday that the U.S. Department of Justice under his leadership has targeted conservative political movements and causes.

Garland told the House Judiciary Committee during a more than four-hour hearing Thursday that he has sought to insulate career staff from political pressures and restore the DOJ’s independence in pursuing investigations and handling prosecutions. Garland’s remarks came as the department has come under criticism from conservatives for reversing Trump-era stances and challenging Republican-backed laws in Georgia over voting restrictions and in Texas over abortion.

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