Merrick Garland is Biden’s choice for Attorney General
The announcement by the Attorney General, along with other senior leaders of the Justice Department, is expected to be made as soon as possible on Thursday as Biden moves closer to filling the remaining seats in his cabinet before assuming power on 20 January.
According to a person familiar with the decision, Biden has chosen Lisa Monaco, a former homeland security adviser in the Obama administration, who has become a close ally of Biden.
The president-elect selected Vanita Gupta, who served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and headed the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice under President Barack Obama, Associate Attorney General, and Kristen Clarke, president and executive director. National Lawyers’ Committee for Lawyers for Civil Rights, to be assistant attorney general for civil rights, the person said.
Garland was chosen by Biden to be Attorney General for former Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, two other finalists for the position.
While Garland has been a top contender for weeks, there is concern about the vacancy that his selection will be for the District of Columbia on the US Court of Appeals and Biden rang alarm bells and many consultants believed That Senate Republicans would withhold any nomination on that seat. But after Georgia’s two runoff races with Democrats to control the Senate, those concerns were left.
“Judge Garland will now be seen in a whole new light,” a top Biden aide tells CNN.
At the end of last month, Biden told reporters that he did not wait until Georgia finished the race to make its decision. But this week, that’s exactly what he’s doing. The advisors emphasized several factors for Mala’s decision, but acknowledged that Biden’s long, often-critical deliberations actually paid off in the case.
Garland, who has moved away from hearing cases on the bench in recent weeks to prepare for the prospect of nomination, emerged as the prime contender in the last two months as Biden won the election.
The revelation that the presidential election is a federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes and business dealings also contributed to Garland moving forward.
Garland’s defenders argued that he would be a particularly strong choice to lead the Justice Department in the post-Trump era because he is seen as above the partisan politics. Some colleagues describe him as a “Boy Scout”, suggesting that he would be seen as a non-political figure.
Finally, a confluence of factors precluded the decision, but people familiar with the matter say the main reason for this is that Biden believes Garland may rise above politics in the post-Trump era.
President Donald Trump’s post-election actions have solidified Biden’s approach to electing Garland, with people familiar with the matter saying Biden believes the nation demands competence and yearns for unity is.
Obama nominated Garland to the Supreme Court in 2016 after becoming a vacancy following the death of Justice Antonin Scallia. But Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, refused months for the confirmation hearing or the required vote in the chamber.
When Trump took office, Garland’s nomination ended and he returned to his position as Chief Justice of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. The court is charged with reviewing challenges to administrative agencies. He stepped down as Chief Justice in February 2020, but is still serving in the court. President Bill Clinton appointed him to court in 1997.
Prior to his appointment as US Circuit Judge, Garland served as the principal associate deputy attorney general. They investigated the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed more than 160 people and injured several hundred more. Garland also led the investigation into the 1996 Olympic bombings in Atlanta, killing two people and injuring more than 100 others.
Garland led the investigation into Ted Kaczynski, also known as “The Unabomber”, who is currently serving an eight-life sentence for murder. He killed three people and injured more than 20 others in a mail bombing.
The judge served as Assistant US Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1989 to 1992 and as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice from 1993 to 1994.
Garland’s nomination will disappoint those who pressured Biden to nominate a person of color as Attorney General.
Biden and Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris met last month with civil rights leaders and members of the NAACP, who are pressuring Biden to diversify his cabinet and create a position within the White House for civil rights. The Rev. Al Sharpton told a news conference after the meeting that Biden should choose an attorney general with a civil rights background and said his priority would be a black nominee.
Sharpton said he was mentioned as potentially former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Tony West, senior vice president and chief legal officer Uber, formerly the United States Associate Attorney General under the Obama administration.
Clarke said at the same news conference that whoever is elected as attorney general “must have a clear and bold record when it comes to civil rights and racial justice.”
This story has been updated with additional reporting and background information about Garland.
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