Mike Lee wants Trump to nominate Merrick Garland for FBI director
© Greg Nash

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSupreme Court takes on same-sex wedding cake case House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama Trump really will shrink government, starting with national monuments MORE (R-Utah) floated on Thursday that President Trump should nominate Merrick Garland, former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaPatagonia files suit against Trump cuts to Utah monuments Former Dem Tenn. gov to launch Senate bid: report Eighth Franken accuser comes forward as Dems call for resignation MORE's Supreme Court nominee, to be the next FBI director. 

"Instead of a special prosecutor, @realDonaldTrump should nominate Merrick Garland to replace James Comey," Lee wrote on Twitter Thursday morning. 

Lee's spokesman said he raised the idea with White House staff after a Wednesday meeting on tax reform at the White House.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration Thanks to the farm lobby, the US is stuck with a broken ethanol policy MORE (R-Iowa), the chairman of the committee with oversight of the FBI, declined to comment on Lee's suggestion.

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Lee previously backed the GOP strategy to refuse to give Garland a hearing or a vote last year on his nomination to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, a move that infuriated Democrats and allowed Trump to fill the vacancy. 
 
Conn Carroll, a spokesman for Lee, added that he wasn't joking about making the Obama nominee the head of the FBI.
 
"He's eminently qualified and has the reputation needed to restore public confidence in FBI," he told The Hill, asked about why Lee would suggest Garland. 
 
Carroll added on Twitter that Garland "has extensive prosecutorial experience including overseeing the OKC bombing investigation."
Garland, then working for the Department of Justice, helped oversee the investigation and prosecution of the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing. 
 
Whoever succeeds James Comey — whom Trump fired Tuesday — would be responsible for overseeing the FBI's investigation into Russia's meddling in last year's presidential election and any possible connections between members of Trump's campaign and Moscow.
 
The next FBI director will only need 51 votes to clear the Senate after Democrats changed the rules for executive nominations during the Obama administration, meaning Trump could clear his pick through without help from Democrats.
 
If Trump nominated Garland, that would also open up a seat on the powerful D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, allowing Trump to fill the vacancy.
 
Lee's suggestion appeared to immediately get the support of at least one colleague. GOP Sen. Steve Daines (Mont.) retweeted Lee's suggestion.
 
Updated 11:39 a.m.