Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Attorney General Merrick Garland faced aggressive statements and questioning from Republicans Wednesday morning during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing, while Democrats charged the GOP with abusing the process.
In his opening comments, House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, railed against the Justice Department's handling of the cases connected with former President Donald Trump while alleging it handed President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, a "sweetheart deal" that was rejected by a federal judge.
"Americans believe in our country that there is an unequal application of the law," Jordan said. "They believe that because there is."
Under questioning from Republican members, Garland stood fast that he would not comment about ongoing investigations into Trump and Hunter Biden, angering some Republicans.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, spent most of his opening statement attacking Jordan, charging that nearly all of the chair's statements have already been refuted in testimony.
Nadler charged that the Republicans had "poisoned our oversight work" to use the Garland hearing to provide cover for Trump.
"They have used their power to stage one political stunt after another," Nadler said. "They have wasted countless taxpayers' dollars on baseless investigations into President Biden and his family to find evidence in an absurd impeachment, desperate to distract from the mounting legal peril facing Donald Trump."
Garland repeatedly said he did not ask questions about the Hunter Biden case because he made a promise not to weigh in, instead giving authority to the attorneys working in. Garland said no one from the White House or connected with President Joe Biden had contacted him about the cases into Hunter Biden or Trump.
"Our job is not to take orders from the president, from Congress, or from anyone else, about who or what to criminally investigate," Garland will say.
"As the president himself has said, and I reaffirm here today: I am not the President's lawyer. I will also add that I am not Congress's prosecutor. The Justice Department works for the American people."
Garland's appearance in front of the Judiciary Committee is his first since he appointed special counsel Jack Smith to investigate Trump in his handling of classified documents and his actions leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.