- Attorney General Merrick Garland requested the COVID test after learning of his possible exposure.
- Garland had attended the annual Gridiron Dinner days earlier in downtown Washington.
- Other attendees of the event, including Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, announced positive tests.
Attorney General Merrick Garland tested positive Wednesday for COVID-19, just hours after appearing at a press conference alongside FBI Director Chris Wray and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco to announce charges against a Russian oligarch.
Garland, 69, requested the test after learning he might have been exposed, the Justice Department said in a prepared statement. He is fully vaccinated and not currently experiencing symptoms, according to the Justice Department.
“In accordance with CDC guidelines, the Attorney General will isolate at home for at least five days. He will work virtually during this period and will return to the office following a negative test for the virus. The department will conduct contact tracing in accordance with CDC protocols,” the Justice Department said.
Garland’s positive test comes just days after he attended the Gridiron Dinner, an annual gathering of politicians, journalists, and government officials that has gone down as a potential superspreader event.
Earlier on Wednesday, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Reps. Adam Schiff, a Democrat of California, and Joaquin Castro, a Democrat of Texas, had all announced that they tested positive after attending the dinner at the Renaissance Washington Hotel.
At a press conference earlier Wednesday, Garland was unmasked as he announced charges against the Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev and detailed how the Justice Department was assisting with the international efforts to examine possible war crimes committed in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The world sees what is happening in Ukraine. The Justice Department sees what is happening in Ukraine,” he said.
Garland specifically referenced the photographs of Ukrainian civilians killed in Bucha, a town near Kyiv. The images drew a fierce, immediate international outcry, prompting President Joe Biden to label Russian leader Vladimir Putin a “war criminal.”