WASHINGTON — Attorney General Merrick Garland is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee in September, two sources familiar with the matter confirmed to NBC News on Tuesday.
The hearing scheduled for Sept. 20 will put Garland face to face with one of his biggest GOP critics: Committee Chair Jim Jordan of Ohio. It will be the first time Garland has testified before the Republican-led panel this year.
The attorney general, who has appeared before other committees in both the House and Senate, is likely to face harsh GOP criticism over a range of high-profile Justice Department investigations, including federal counts against Hunter Biden, seditious conspiracy charges against members of the Proud Boys, and special counsel Jack Smith's investigation into former President Donald Trump's role in the Jan. 6 riot.
The Justice Department declined to comment on the upcoming hearing, first reported by Punchbowl News. Spokespeople for the House Judiciary Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
News of the scheduled hearing comes shortly after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., raised the prospect of impeaching Garland over the federal investigation into the president's son, Hunter Biden. McCarthy pointed to recent congressional testimony from a former IRS employee who alleged Garland meddled in the Biden case led by U.S. Attorney in Delaware David Weiss, a Trump appointee.
"Because of the allegation from the IRS, because the whistleblowers and the DOJ — or Garland, what he’s saying and what David Weiss are saying privately are two different things. And if it comes true what the IRS whistleblower is saying, we’re going to start impeachment inquiries on the Attorney General," McCarthy said on Fox News this week.
In a news conference Friday, Garland emphasized Weiss’ independence in the Hunter Biden investigation.
“As I said at the outset, Mr. Weiss, who was appointed by President Trump as the U.S. Attorney in Delaware and assigned this matter during the previous administration, would be permitted to continue his investigation and to make a decision to prosecute any way in which he wanted to and in any district in which he wanted to,” Garland said.
Republicans have also attacked the Justice Department after Trump's federal indictment over his handling of classified documents, with Trump allies insisting that President Joe Biden is "weaponizing" the DOJ against Trump, the GOP front-runner in the polls in the 2024 presidential race.
Jordan previously called on the Justice Department to provide lawmakers with internal documents regarding special counsel Jack Smith's investigation into Trump over the government documents found at Mar-a-Lago last year. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him in that case.
"I certainly understand that some have chosen to attack the integrity of the Justice Department and its components and its employees by claiming that we do not treat like cases alike," Garland said on Friday. "This constitutes an attack on an institution that is essential to American democracy and essential to the safety of the American people. Nothing could be further from the truth."
Garland has served as attorney general since the beginning of Biden's administration. He was nominated in 2016 by then-President Barack Obama to the Supreme Court, but Senate Republicans blocked his nomination.