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National

First Mention: Merrick Garland's Role In Oklahoma City Bombing Case

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Today, Judge Merrick Garland is standing in a brighter spotlight than at any point so far in his career. But if you were listening to NPR 21 years ago during our coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing, you would've heard his name and his voice.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

To learn more about how Merrick Garland first appeared on NPR, we turn to the feature that we call...

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UNIDENTIFIED MEN: First mention.

SIEGEL: And we located this story in our archives. It is from April 28, 1995.

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JOHN NIELSEN, BYLINE: An armored car and two police vehicles blocked the entrance to the El Reno Federal Corrections Center in Oklahoma for most of yesterday.

SIEGEL: That's reporter John Nielsen talking about the moment Timothy McVeigh arrived in court eight days after the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building.

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NIELSEN: Inside the compound at just after 2 p.m., Timothy James McVeigh was led from an isolation cell into the prison visitor's room. McVeigh said nothing to the court or to reporters. Federal prosecutor Merrick Garland later described what everyone had come for.

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MERRICK GARLAND: The purpose of the hearing today was to determine whether there was probable cause to hold Mr. McVeigh on the charge 18 United States code, section 844, which is maliciously destroying a federal - a building used by the federal government by use of an explosion. The court held that there was probable cause to believe that he committed that crime.

SIEGEL: That's Merrick Garland in 1995 when he was a prosecutor with the Justice Department.

SHAPIRO: Today at the White House, President Obama talked about Garland's role in the Oklahoma City bombing case.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BARACK OBAMA: In the aftermath of that act of terror, when 168 people, many of them small children, were murdered, Merrick had one evening to say goodbye to his own young daughters before he boarded a plane to Oklahoma City. And he would remain there for weeks. He worked side-by-side with first responders, rescue workers, local and federal law enforcement. He'd led the investigation and supervised the prosecution that brought Timothy McVeigh to justice.

SHAPIRO: President Obama speaking about Merrick Garland, the man he nominated to the Supreme Court today. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.