Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Said on Tuesday he would support the appointment of Merrick Garland as the next United States Attorney General.
Politico asked the Kentucky Republican if he supported Garland’s nomination, even after refusing to allow a hearing on his Supreme Court nomination five years ago.
“Yes,” McConnell told the publication. He refused to elaborate.
President Joe Biden asked Garland, a former federal prosecutor who led the investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, to be his attorney general shortly after his inauguration last month. He has been a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 1997.
McConnell declined to consider Garland’s appointment by then-President Barack Obama in 2016 following the death of Judge Antonin Scalia on February 13, arguing that a vacancy in an election year should be decided by the American people. Donald Trump won this election and appointed Judge Neil Gorsuch to the bench in 2017.
When Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away last year, just months before the election that saw Biden elevated to the presidency, Republicans quickly moved to take her seat with Amy Coney Barrett ahead of polling day.
McConnell called his unprecedented efforts to block Garland “the most important thing I have ever done” and the cutting edge achievement in his efforts to reshape the country’s justice system.
During his confirmation hearing this week, Garland vowed to restore the independence of the Department of Justice and to tackle growing national problems. He said the ongoing investigation into the deadly riot on Capitol Hill will be a priority, as will the growth of domestic extremism.
“I don’t intend to be embarrassed by anyone,” Garland told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. He added that “the attorney general represents the public interest,” a subtle attack on his predecessors who have been criticized for politicizing the role.
Other high-profile Republicans have already announced their support for Garland, including sane Lindsey Graham (SC) and Thom Tillis (NC). McConnell’s backing could lead other GOPers to vote for Garland’s nomination.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on his nomination on March 1, and its final confirmation vote in the plenary chamber could take place sometime next week.
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