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KGOU and our Oklahoma Public Media Exchange partners' coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing at the 20th anniversary and beyond.

Washington Reacts To Oklahoma City Bombing; Lankford Angry Over Politicization

Donna Bucella, a former federal prosecutor, on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Tuesday morning.
Donna Bucella, a former federal prosecutor, on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Tuesday morning.

In Washington, D.C., several of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland’s former colleagues who worked with him on the Oklahoma City bombing investigation urged the U.S. Senate to grant him a nomination hearing.

Beth Wilkinson, an attorney who served as a trial prosecutor who helped present the federal government’s case against Timothy McVeigh, said when Garland returned to run the prosecution team, he told them they should never forget what happened to the victims, the survivors and their families.

“The best thing that we could do for them would be to honor them by following the rule of law and prosecuting the case properly,” Wilkinson said.

Former Justice Department prosecutor Donna Bucella said Garland spent hours making sure no corners were cut, and that an investigation involving as many as eight different jurisdictions was coordinated through Oklahoma City.

“He worked tirelessly with the federal, state, and local officials, with all of the agents, with the first responders, and the victims,” Bucella said. “He wanted to make sure that their voice was heard, that this did not happen for no reason.”

Fifteen former prosecutors, FBI officials, and victims’ advocates sent a letter Tuesday to Senate leadership asking them to grant Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a confirmation hearing.

U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, also spoke during Tuesday morning’s press conference on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington.

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Her colleague, U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., criticized her for playing politics with the Murrah Bombing anniversary.

“The Oklahoma City bombing anniversary is a very sensitive day for Oklahomans. I am grateful for Judge Garland’s contribution to the prosecution and recovery of the Bombing tragedy, along with thousands of others who came to Oklahoma in our time of need,” Lankford said in a statement. “But today is not about the Supreme Court, it’s about the victims, the survivors and the first responders. April 19 is a time to remember, not a time for political games.”

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Lankford plans to deliver the opening prayer at the start of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon on Sunday.

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. 4, who served as Oklahoma’s Secretary of State in 1995, said he was grieving for the families, loved ones, and friends the 168 victims left behind.

“We remain forever grateful for the heroic acts of rescue and recovery exhibited by first responders, the strong leadership displayed by our governing officials and the extraordinary outpouring of love from communities far beyond the borders of our state,” Cole said in a statement.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.,  also marked the occasion with a video tribute. His wife Janna is from Oklahoma, and a first cousin of former U.S. Rep. Dan Boren. Ryan and his wife were married in the St. Joseph Old Cathedral, which was heavily damaged in the Oklahoma City bombing.

Watch House Speaker Paul Ryan's video statement about the bombing anniversary

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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