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McConnell backs Garland for attorney general

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham quips key to working with Trump: We both 'like him' The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay Democrats scramble to unify before election bill brawl MORE (R-Ky.) told Politico Tuesday he will back Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandHouse Judiciary asks DOJ to disclose remaining gag orders The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? Biden frustrates death penalty opponents with Supreme Court request MORE’s nomination for attorney general.

Asked by the publication whether he supported Garland’s nomination, the minority leader replied “I do.” However, the outlet reported that the senator did not elaborate further on his reasoning for the decision. 

McConnell blocked Garland as a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia following his death during the Obama administration, saying he would not allow consideration of a justice in an election year while the Senate and White House were held by opposite parties. Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchFive takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision The Hill's 12:30 Report: Supreme Court unveils two major opinions Supreme Court unanimously sides with Catholic adoption agency that turned away same-sex couples MORE, then-President TrumpDonald TrumpWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Poll: 30 percent of GOP voters believe Trump will 'likely' be reinstated this year Black Secret Service agent told Trump it was offensive to hold rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth: report MORE’s nominee for the seat, was confirmed in 2017.

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McConnell has called blocking Garland from the court the "most consequential thing I’ve ever done.”

Later, the minority leader and other leading Senate Republicans' efforts to block Garland's nomination were pointed out by Democrats after Trump nominated now-Justice Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettOvernight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision Supreme Court unanimously sides with Catholic adoption agency that turned away same-sex couples MORE to the high court following 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's death last year. 

McConnell’s reported comments came as several other Republicans have signaled support for Garland’s nomination, including Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham quips key to working with Trump: We both 'like him' Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle Lawmakers rally around cyber legislation following string of attacks MORE (R-S.C.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisCentrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle Lawmakers rally around cyber legislation following string of attacks The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? MORE (R-N.C.) and John CornynJohn CornynThe Senate is where dreams go to die Federal government to observe Juneteenth holiday on Friday Joe Manchin keeps Democrats guessing on sweeping election bill MORE (R-Texas).

Garland’s nomination is set for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee March 1. Senate Majority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinOvernight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 COVID-19 long-haulers press Congress for paid family leave Joe Manchin keeps Democrats guessing on sweeping election bill MORE (D-Ill.) has said he hopes for a full confirmation vote sometime next week.

Garland, currently the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court, previously worked for the Justice Department during a series of high-profile domestic terror incidents in the 1990s, and told the panel last week he intended to draw on this background as attorney general.

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He pointed to the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, calling it “the most heinous attack on the democratic process that I’ve ever seen.”

“I intend to give the career prosecutors who are working on this manner 24/7 all of the resources they could possibly require to do this,” Garland said. “And at the same time, I intend to make sure that we look more broadly to look at where this is coming from, what other groups there might be that could raise the same problem in the future.”

The Hill has reached out to McConnell’s office for comment.