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McConnell backs Garland for attorney general

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden to meet with 6 GOP senators next week GOP is consumed by Trump conspiracy theories The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture MORE (R-Ky.) told Politico Tuesday he will back Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandDOJ proposes crackdown on 'ghost guns' following Biden pledge America's Jewish communities are under attack — Here are 3 things Congress can do Biden set to flex clemency powers 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 GorsuchConservative justices split in ruling for immigrant fighting deportation Top GOP super PAC endorses Murkowski amid primary threat Trump-era grievances could get second life at Supreme Court MORE, then-President TrumpDonald TrumpDemocrats, activists blast reported Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: 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 BarrettCourt watchers buzz about Breyer's possible retirement Five hot-button issues Biden didn't mention in his address to Congress Conservative justices split in ruling for immigrant fighting deportation MORE to the high court following Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgCourt watchers buzz about Breyer's possible retirement Five hot-button issues Biden didn't mention in his address to Congress Schumer waiting for recommendation on Supreme Court expansion 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 GrahamLindsey Graham: GOP can't 'move forward without President Trump' House to advance appropriations bills in June, July The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  MORE (R-S.C.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate hears from Biden's high-profile judicial nominees for first time Senate Democrats take aim at 'true lender' interest rate rule Former North Carolina chief justice launches Senate campaign MORE (R-N.C.) and John CornynJohn CornynTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Cornyn is most prolific tweeter in Congress so far in 2021 Schumer 'exploring' passing immigration unilaterally if talks unravel MORE (R-Texas).

Garland’s nomination is set for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee March 1. Senate Majority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinAmerica's Jewish communities are under attack — Here are 3 things Congress can do Schumer 'exploring' passing immigration unilaterally if talks unravel On The Money: Incomes, consumer spending soared in March | Harris, senators work behind scenes on jobs package | Biden cancels some border wall construction 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.