In his first speech as attorney general, Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandSenate votes to confirm Garland as attorney generalThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation – At 50 days in charge, Democrats hail American Rescue Plan as major winBlack Caucus backs Biden’s pick to head DOJ Civil Rights DivisionMORE sought to assert the independence the Department of Justice (DOJ) would seek under the Biden administration.

The only way we can succeed and retain the trust of the American people is to adhere to the norms that have become part of the DNA of every Justice Department employee, Garland said, nodding to complaints that the department became deeply politicized under the Trump administration. 

Garland was confirmed Wednesday with a highly bipartisan 70-30 vote and is set to be ceremonially sworn in Thursday evening by Vice President Harris.

Those norms require that like cases be treated alike. That there not be one rule for Democrats, and another for Republicans; one rule for friends and another for foes; one rule for the powerful and another for the powerless; one rule for the rich and another for the poor; or different rules, depending upon one’s race or ethnicity, Garland told employees from DOJs Great Hall.

Garland will have to balance rebuilding the Justice Department with juggling a wide-ranging domestic terrorism probe and controversial policy fights on issues such as police reform and immigration.

Those will spark immediate tests that could have far-reaching political repercussions, testing his pledge for independence. 

Garland will have to decide whether to take the unprecedented step of investigating and potentially prosecuting a former president following accusations that Trump stoked the Jan. 6 riot that overran the Capitol and left five people dead.

The department is also carrying out a tax investigation into Hunter Biden, the president’s son, that is being closely watched by Republicans, who also pressed Garland to let special counsel John DurhamJohn DurhamSenate votes to confirm Garland as attorney generalSpecial counsel investigating Russia probe to retire as US attorneyBiden administration withdraws from Connecticut transgender athlete caseMORE continue his probe into the origins of the 2016 probe involving Russia’s election interference and the Trump campaign.