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Lindsey Graham praises Merrick Garland as 'sound choice' to serve as attorney general

Lindsey Graham praises Merrick Garland as 'sound choice' to serve as attorney general
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden support, gas tax questions remain on infrastructure This week: Senate set for voting rights fight MORE (R-S.C.), who in 2016 supported a decision to block D.C. Circuit Court Judge Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandGarland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump Man accused of punching, choking flight attendant on train at Denver airport DOJ forming firearms trafficking strike forces in effort to reduce violent crime MORE from getting a hearing to serve on the Supreme Court, on Wednesday praised him as a “sound choice” to serve as the next attorney general.

“If media reports are accurate, I believe Judge Garland would be a sound choice to be the next Attorney General. He is a man of great character, integrity, and tremendous competency in the law,” Graham tweeted after it was reported that President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBaltimore police chief calls for more 'boots on the ground' to handle crime wave Biden to deliver remarks at Sen. John Warner's funeral Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump MORE would tap Garland to serve as the nation’s chief law enforcement official.

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The statement is notable coming from Graham, who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 116th Congress and came under criticism for speedily moving the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barret, who was nominated by President TrumpDonald TrumpGuardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa wins GOP primary in NYC mayor's race Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump Schumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE, to serve on the Supreme Court after supporting the decision to block Garland’s nomination to the high court during the 2016 presidential election.

Graham praised Garland in 2016 after then-President Obama nominated him to fill the vacancy created by the death of late Justice Antonin Scalia, but said the winner of the election should appoint Scalia’s successor.

“My view is that the next president should decide,” Graham said after meeting with Garland in April of 2016. “And it’s nothing against him personally. I think he’s a very capable, honest judge.”

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Graham took heat last year for spearheading the swift confirmation of Barrett after proclaiming four years earlier that a Supreme Court seat should not be filled in a presidential election year.

“I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said, ‘Let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination,' ” Graham said in 2016, prompting charges of flip-flopping after he chaired Barrett’s confirmation hearings less than a month after Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgOcasio-Cortez says Breyer should retire from Supreme Court Progressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema Juan Williams: Time for Justice Breyer to go MORE died.

Confirming Garland to serve as attorney general would open up a vacancy on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is viewed as the second-most-powerful court in the country.

Garland’s departure from the appellate court is more palatable for Democrats now that they are expected to control the White House and Senate in 2021, giving them an opportunity to confirm Biden’s preferred choice to next serve on the D.C. Circuit.