Biden to name Merrick Garland for attorney general

President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Myanmar military conducts violent night raids Confidence in coronavirus vaccines has grown with majority now saying they want it MORE has selected Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandSenate to vote next week on Garland's AG nomination Biden's justice reform should influence prosecutor appointments Politics in the Department of Justice can be a good thing MORE, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and a former Supreme Court nominee, as U.S. attorney general, according to a person familiar with the decision.

Garland beat out other candidates on the shortlist, including former Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and onetime deputy attorney general Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesBiden directs DOJ to phase out use of private prisons The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from chaotic downtown DC Biden to name Merrick Garland for attorney general MORE.

Then-President Obama previously nominated Garland to the Supreme Court in 2016 to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package GOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill Senate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote MORE (R-Ky.) never allowed a vote on Garland and the seat was ultimately taken by Justice Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchJustices raise bar for noncitizens to challenge removal from US after conviction Supreme Court faces landmark challenge on voting rights Kavanaugh dismays conservatives by dodging pro-Trump election lawsuits MORE in 2017.


A source familiar with the decision said Biden liked Jones for the job, but many of Biden's aides backed Garland as the pick.

Democrats appearing to sweep both U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia on Tuesday likely made the choice easier. The presumptive victories of Jon Ossoff (D) and Raphael Warnock (D) means the chamber will be split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package It will be Vice (or) President Harris against Gov. DeSantis in 2024 — bet on it Trump sued by Democrat over mob attack on Capitol MORE serving as the tie-breaking vote.

The Democratic majority smooths the path to confirmation for Biden's Cabinet picks, as they would only require 51 votes. That majority is especially critical for confirming Garland, as Biden could then appoint his replacement on the D.C. circuit court, which is considered among the most influential in the country.

Attorney general was one of the only major Cabinet appointments Biden has yet to formally announce. Biden is expected to formally introduce Garland later this week.

Garland would be tasked with carrying out Biden's agenda on criminal justice, which the president-elect has said will focus on issues of racial justice.


Biden's attorney general will also face several politically sticky situations.

The Department of Justice is currently investigating Biden's son Hunter over his taxes. Biden has said he is confident his son did nothing wrong, but the probe will likely hang over his administration for some time.

Garland, if confirmed, will also face pressure from some liberals who hope to see President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout MORE and members of his administration face investigations or charges for their actions. Biden has said he will not use the Justice Department as a political vehicle.

Updated at 12:50 p.m.