McConnell backs Garland for attorney general

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Politico Tuesday he will back Merrick Garland’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 Gorsuch, then-President Trump’s nominee for the seat, was confirmed in 2017.

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 Barrett to the high court following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last year. 

McConnell’s reported comments came as several other Republicans have signaled support for Garland’s nomination, including Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).

Garland’s nomination is set for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee March 1. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (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.

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.

Tags Amy Coney Barrett Dick Durbin Donald Trump John Cornyn Lindsey Graham Merrick Garland Mitch McConnell Neil Gorsuch Ruth Bader Ginsburg Thom Tillis

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