WILMINGTON, Del. — In a stark shift from the current administration, president-elect Joe Biden directed his Justice Department appointments Thursday to not pledge their loyalty solely to him.
"Your loyalty is not to me...it's to the people of the United States," Biden said during a press conference on Thursday.
The statement — made while introducing his pick for attorney general, Judge Merrick Garland — runs in contrast to the regime of President Donald Trump, who has demanded loyalty and protection from legal consequences from his Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and William Barr.
Biden also addressed Wednesday's riots at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, calling the Trump supporters who interrupted the certification of the election "a riotous mob, insurrectionists, domestic terrorists."
"Don't dare call them protesters," Biden said.
Biden said he believes the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol were treated much differently than Black Lives Matter protesters would have been treated.
"No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn't have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol," said Biden. "We all know that's true, and it is unacceptable. Totally unacceptable."
Biden stopped short of calling for Trump's removal from office, as top Congressional Democrats did on Monday. But he did blame Trump's rhetoric for the riots and pushed back on those who said it was "impossible" to see them coming.
In introducing Garland, Biden called him a "man of integrity."
Garland may be best known for being nominated by former President Barack Obama for a vacant Supreme Court seat in 2015. However, the GOP-controlled Senate refused to hold the hearings necessary for him to be confirmed.
Aside from being nominated by Obama, Garland has worked under Democratic and Republican administrations, leading investigations into high-profile cases, like the “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski. He also coordinated the government’s response to the Oklahoma City bombing.
Garland currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, where he was also Chief Judge for seven years. He also served as the Chair of the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference of the U.S.
“Judge Garland’s nomination underscores the President-elect’s commitment to restore integrity and the rule of law, boost morale of the dedicated career professionals at DOJ, and build a more equitable justice system that serves all Americans,” said Biden’s team.
The other nominees include Lisa Monaco for Deputy Attorney General, Vanita Gupta for Associate Attorney General, and Kristen Clarke for Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
“These nominees reflect the president-elect’s deeply held commitment to reaffirming the Department of Justice as a pillar of independence and integrity, and ensuring that the Attorney General and his senior leadership team are the American people’s lawyers — not the president’s law firm,” said the transition team. “These leaders, all of whom are Justice Department veterans, will renew Americans’ faith in the rule of law and work tirelessly to build a more equitable justice system.”
Biden describes his nominees as being eminently qualified candidates who have devoted their careers to serving the American people with integrity.
“They will restore the independence of the Department so it serves the interests of the people not a presidency, rebuild public trust in the rule of law, and work tirelessly to ensure a more fair and equitable justice system,” said Biden in a statement. “They are among the most accomplished legal minds in our country who also reflect the best of America’s full range of talents and background. I am honored they accepted this call to serve at such a critical time in our nation’s history.”