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McConnell backs Garland for attorney general

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats near pressure point on nixing filibuster  We need a voting rights workaround Biden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package MORE (R-Ky.) told Politico Tuesday he will back 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’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 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, then-President TrumpDonald TrumpUS, South Korea reach agreement on cost-sharing for troops Graham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump 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 BarrettWe need a voting rights workaround Barrett authors first Supreme Court majority opinion against environmental group Justices raise bar for noncitizens to challenge removal from US after conviction MORE to the high court following Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgTrump promises to travel to Alaska to campaign against Murkowski Barrett authors first Supreme Court majority opinion against environmental group How to pass legislation in the Senate without eliminating the filibuster 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: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Sunday shows preview: Manchin makes the rounds after pivotal role in coronavirus relief debate Georgia DA investigating Trump taps racketeering expert for probe: report MORE (R-S.C.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisMcConnell backs Garland for attorney general GOP senators demand probe into Cuomo's handling of nursing home deaths CNN anchor confronts GOP chairman over senator's vote to convict Trump MORE (R-N.C.) and John CornynJohn CornynSenate holds longest vote in history as Democrats scramble to save relief bill Biden gets involved to help break Senate logjam Overnight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels MORE (R-Texas).

Garland’s nomination is set for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee March 1. Senate Majority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinDemocrats near pressure point on nixing filibuster  Senate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote Senate rejects Cruz effort to block stimulus checks for undocumented immigrants 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.