Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland fought back tears on Monday during his confirmation hearing when he explained to senators on his panel why this role is important to him.
“I come from a family where my grandparents fled anti-Semitism and persecution. … I feel an obligation to the country to pay back for protecting us,” Garland told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill.
Garland gave the brief, yet emotional, anecdote during questions with Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who asked Garland to share the private conversation they previously had.
“When you talk about your aspirations and I’m wondering if you could just conclude by answering the question about your motivation, maybe some of your own family history in confronting hate and discrimination in American history,” Booker asked.
Garland, in response, said that “I want very much to be the kind of attorney general that you’re saying I could become. I’ll do my best to try to be that kind of attorney general.”
Garland’s hearing Monday comes nearly five years after he became the poster child for the Republican blockade of an open Supreme Court seat in the final year of President Barack Obama’s term, when Senate Republicans denied even a hearing to the Supreme Court nominee.
Monday is the first day of a two-day confirmation hearing process, but this time Garland is appearing for a different role as President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Justice Department.
Garland has so far been praised by Republicans and Democrats alike in his testimony before the committee on Monday, where he faced questions about the politically charged investigations that await him if confirmed to lead the Justice Department, including a federal probe into Biden’s son Hunter Biden and whether the DOJ should wade into former President Donald Trump’s role in the riot.
CNN’s Jeremy Herb contributed to this report.