AG Garland addresses guns, drugs and Ticketmaster before Senate

Attorney General Merrick Garland was asked about whether Ticketmaster was under investigation and the status of a variety of probes.
Posted at 4:27 PM, Mar 01, 2023

Attorney General Merrick Garland was peppered with questions from senators on Wednesday on an array of subjects as part of the committee’s oversight of the Department of Justice. 

This was Garland’s first visit to a congressional committee this year. 

Here were some of the highlights:

New gun law allows DOJ to make arrests

Congress passed a bipartisan gun law in 2022 in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas. The law provides funds for states to implement red flag laws, gets rid of the so-called “boyfriend loophole” by including those convicted of domestic abuse in background checks, clarifying the language of a federally licensed firearm dealer and invokes penalties for straw purchases of firearms. 

Garland said the law has made it easier for the DOJ to make arrests related to firearm trafficking. 

“I think we already have two gun trafficking cases and several straw purchasing cases as a consequence of this law,” Garland said. “In addition, the law of provided for enhanced background checks for people under 21, and we have largely completed the process of making those possible so that juvenile records that disclose prohibited conduct and make somebody a prohibited possessor would now be identified."

Attorney General Merrick Garland

DOJ giving states $231M for gun violence prevention programs

The funding is part of the landmark bipartisan gun legislation passed by Congress.


Swift justice on Ticketmaster?

Garland would not confirm whether the DOJ is investigating Ticketmaster following last year's ticket-selling fiasco during the on-sale of Taylor Swift’s concert tour. Some lawmakers have called on the DOJ to investigate Ticketmaster’s practices after many fans of the pop star were unable to obtain tickets. 

Lawmakers have accused Ticketmaster of violating antitrust laws. 

“Highly concentrated industries are a problem for competition,” he said. 

Ticket company executives appear before Congress

Ticketmaster under fire on Capitol Hill for failing to stop bots

Ticketmaster called for new laws against illegal computer bots, but a Scripps News investigation found a failure to enforce laws already on the books.


Garland says drug sales on social media a problem

Many of the questions pointed toward Garland by senators focused on the nation’s issues with drug overdoses

Garland indicated that one area the DOJ has seen problems with is on social media. 

“The cartels that are creating these pills and that are distributing them within the United States are the most horrid individuals you can imagine, and unfortunately, they are doing it on social media advertising as if they are prescription pills,” Garland said. “So the DEA has a program of going out to the social media companies and urging them to advise DEA when they see this"

Investigations tied to Trump, Bidens

Garland is overseeing the Department of Justice at a time when both the current and former presidents are under investigation for improperly storing classified documents. In both cases, Garland appointed special counsels, which largely means he is not overseeing these sensitive investigations. 

There is also an ongoing investigation into President Biden’s son Hunter Biden’s past. Garland was asked specifically about potential whistleblowers who have information on Hunter Biden.

“I promised to leave the matter of hunter biden in the hands of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, who was appointed in the previous administration,” he said. “So any information like that should have gone to that U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the FBI squad that is working with him. I have pledged not to interfere with that investigation. And I have carried through on my pledge.”