Former Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, whom Republicans brazenly blocked at every turn, is being considered for attorney general in the incoming Biden administration, NPR reported on Friday.
If selected, Garland would be saddled with restoring confidence in a Justice Department that, amid the Trump presidency, has drifted far afield from its original nonpartisan mission — routinely playing politics to do Trump’s bidding.
President Trump has bent leaders at the Justice Department to his will, especially with Attorney General Bill Barr at the helm, who in remarks at Hillsdale College in September appeared to defend his continuous support of Trump by suggesting “the most basic check on prosecutorial power is politics.”
Biden has criticized President Trump’s meddling in the Justice Department, calling his moves corrupt while describing the agency led by Barr as “The Department of Trump.”
“The Justice Department has turned into the president’s private law firm,” Biden said at a campaign event in Charlotte, North Carolina in September.
Garland, former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, oversaw the prosecution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and was an Obama nominee for the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Anotonin Scalia months before the 2016 presidential election.
Senate Republicans at the time denied Garland a hearing for the role, suggesting the nomination should be made by the incoming president in a contradictory effort that was cited this year, when Republicans moved to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, to the bench shortly before the 2020 election after the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September.
According to NPR, also short-listed for the top DOJ role are a host of Obama administration alums, including former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates as well as former civil rights chief and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, and outgoing Sen. Doug Jones, among others.