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Merrick Garland confirmed as Biden’s attorney general

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer meets with Judge Merrick Garland. (Senate Democrats/Flickr)
March 10, 2021

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Merrick Garland as President Joe Biden’s pick to serve as the attorney general.

Garland was confirmed with a vote of 70 to 30, and received broad bipartisan support for his confirmation, with 20 out of 50 Senate Republicans joining their Democrat colleagues on Garland’s nomination.

Garland has served on U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 1997.

Garland was previously considered for to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, after President Barack Obama nominated him in 2016, in the final year of his presidential term, after Justice Antonin Scalia died. Senate Republicans, then in the majority, declined to take up Garland’s nomination for a vote and the opportunity passed after President Donald Trump won the 2016 election, instead choosing Justice Neil Gorsuch to fill Scalia’s vacancy.

Following the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tweeted, “The Senate just confirmed Merrick Garland to be the Attorney General of the United States of America.”

Fox News reported Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said, “Judge Garland’s unshakeable commitment to serving his country is deeply rooted in who he is. He fundamentally grasps that America’s greatness rests in our bedrock principles of justice and the rule of law.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a Republican who supported Garland’s nomination, did so while noting concerns he had about how Garland would handle Second Amendment gun rights issues.

Speaking before a committee vote on the nomination, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), another Republican who voted for Garland, said, “I agree that Judge Garland has the temperament and the qualifications for the job of attorney general. As I have said, I was impressed by his humility and his humanity and I intend to support his nomination, but I must express some concerns because I hope we’re not headed toward another Obama-Holder Justice Department take two.”

Cornyn was particularly concerned that Garland would not commit to allowing Special Counsel John Durham to complete his investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia collusion allegations and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe on the subject.

As attorney general, Garland will have to oversee other politically charged investigations, such as those against demonstrators who entered the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, who is under federal investigation for possible tax fraud involving overseas business dealings connected to China and Ukraine.

During his confirmation hearing, Garland denied discussing Hunter Biden’s case with the president and said the elder Biden has made clear that investigations and prosecutions will be up to the Justice Department.