President-elect Joe Biden will nominate federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland to serve as attorney general, according to Politico.
Biden’s decision comes after Democrats appear in striking distance of taking control of the Senate following runoff elections in Georgia on Tuesday. Raphael Warnock is projected to defeat Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler. Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff is currently leading David Perdue, a Republican incumbent who holds the other seat in Georgia.
Biden had reportedly been considering Garland, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and outgoing Alabama Sen. Doug Jones to serve as attorney general. Yates was seen as a controversial pick due to the circumstances of her departure from the Trump administration in January 2017, as well as her role in approving a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page as part of the Russia probe.
Politico cited two people familiar with Biden’s decision in its report.
Garland has served since 1997 on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., one of the most powerful courts in the U.S. President Barack Obama nominated Garland to the Supreme Court in 2016 following the death of Antonin Scalia, a conservative justice.
Senate Republicans blocked a vote on Garland’s confirmation, arguing that it should not be held during an election year.
If confirmed, Garland will immediately face a slew of politically charged cases, including an ongoing investigation against Hunter Biden, the son of the president-elect. Hunter is under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware over his taxes and foreign business dealings.
Garland will also have to decide how to handle a special counsel’s investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe. William Barr, who served as attorney general until last month, appointed John Durham, the federal prosecutor in Connecticut, to oversee that investigation. Barr designated Durham as special counsel on Oct. 19.
Durham is investigating FBI and intelligence community activities that occurred while Biden served as vice president. Barr has said that Biden is not a target of Durham’s probe.
Biden’s attorney general will have to decide whether to allow Durham to continue the investigation, as well as whether he will maintain the title of special counsel.
The Biden transition team did not respond to a request for comment about Garland’s nomination.
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