McCarthy, other Republicans back Ratcliffe to be next attorney general

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyTop GOP lawmakers invite Blue Dogs to meet with China Task Force over coronavirus probe Key races to watch in Tuesday's primaries Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order targeting social media legal protections | House requests conference with Senate after FISA vote canceled | Minneapolis systems temporarily brought down by hackers MORE (Calif.) and other top Republicans are calling on President TrumpDonald John TrumpFauci says his meetings with Trump have 'dramatically decreased' McEnany criticizes DC mayor for not imposing earlier curfew amid protests Stopping Israel's annexation is a US national security interest MORE to name Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeTrump asserts his power over Republicans Flynn urged Russian diplomat to have 'reciprocal' response to Obama sanctions, new transcripts show READ: Newly declassified transcripts of Flynn calls with Russia ambassador MORE (R-Texas) as the next attorney general.

"Look, it's the president's choice ... but one thing I know is John Ratcliffe probably has the best abilities to do the job and most knowledge to do the job," McCarthy told The Hill on Friday. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Ratcliffe, a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, is one of several people mentioned as possible contenders to succeed Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDemocratic senator to offer amendment halting 'military weaponry' given to police The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump tweets as tensions escalate across US Trump asserts his power over Republicans MORE, who resigned under pressure from Trump last week. Other names in the mix include Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Trump picked Matthew Whitaker to serve as acting attorney general, a move that has come under criticism in part because of Whitaker's public bashing of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's investigation.

Other Republicans in the House are also backing Ratcliffe, a member of the House Judiciary Committee. 

"He is a very bright lawyer. He's been a U.S. attorney. He's done federal prosecution. He knows the law as well as anybody," said Rep. Mike JohnsonJames (Mike) Michael JohnsonRep. Banks launches bid for RSC chairman FBI director stuck in the middle with 'Obamagate' Put entrepreneurs, workers and flexibility in next stimulus package MORE (R-La.), who was elected on Friday to chair the Republican Study Committee (RSC), the largest conservative caucus in Congress. "He's one of the sharpest members of the House Judiciary Committee in recent years. And I think he would serve the country very well." 

Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzTrump signs order targeting social media firms' legal protections Trump to order review of law protecting social media firms after Twitter spat: report On The Money: US tops 100,000 coronavirus deaths with no end in sight | How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman's COVID-19 response | Tenants fear mass evictions MORE (R-Fla.), a Judiciary Committee member, told The Hill that he has advocated for Ratcliffe to be the attorney general during one-on-one conversations he has had with the president. McCarthy and Gaetz are among the president's closest allies on Capitol Hill and speak with him regularly. 

Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerDemocrats press OSHA official on issuing an Emergency Temporary Standard John Ratcliffe is the right choice for director of national intelligence — and for America NCAA backs plan to allow college athletes to cash in on name, image and likeness MORE (R-N.C.), the outgoing RSC chairman, echoed Johnson's remarks, stating that he could not think of someone "more qualified" to be attorney general.

Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsTrump to return to Florida for rescheduled SpaceX launch Pence names new press secretary House leaders take vote-counting operations online MORE (R-N.C.), head of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, said while the decision should come down to who the president believes can best serve him, Ratcliffe would be a strong choice. 

"Certainly, having served with Congressman Ratcliffe and having an understanding of how deliberative and purposeful he is with his questions and thoughts that he would make an outstanding AG," Meadows said.

Other top Republicans declined to weigh in on the matter. 

"I think there are a lot of good people in the mix right now," said Rep. Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTop GOP lawmakers invite Blue Dogs to meet with China Task Force over coronavirus probe House pays tribute to late Congressman Sam Johnson on the floor Rep. Banks launches bid for RSC chairman MORE (R-La.), who was recently elected to serve as the House minority whip during the next Congress. McCarthy was elected to serve as leader.

"Ultimately, this is a decision by President Trump. And I have full confidence he is going to make the best choice," Scalise told The Hill.

Over the last year, Ratcliffe has been deeply involved in the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform panels' joint investigation into FBI and Department of Justice conduct during the 2016 election.

He is often seen walking the halls with Oversight Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyMore than two dozen former prosecutors, judges, active trial lawyers support DOJ decision to dismiss Michael Flynn case Sunday shows preview: As states loosen social distancing restrictions, lawmakers address dwindling state budgets John Ratcliffe is the right choice for director of national intelligence — and for America MORE (R-S.C.), a close friend who has dismissed claims that he is also seeking to become — or is under consideration for — attorney general.

Republicans have voiced concern over whether Bondi or Christie could win Senate confirmation.

It is unclear when Trump will pick a permanent successor to Sessions.

Scott Wong contributed.