Biden & Schumer Wrangle 20 GOP Votes & Confirm Attorney General


On Wednesday, the same day that the House passed a substantial COVID-19 economic relief package and thereby finalized the last step before President Joe Biden’s signature, the Senate confirmed Merrick Garland as U.S. Attorney General. Garland, of course, was once then-President Barack Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, but at the time, Senate Republicans — who controlled the chamber — refused to even hold hearings on Garland’s nomination, insisting that the matter should be left until after the then-impending presidential election. This time that Garland came before the Senate, a full 20 Republicans voted for his confirmation.

Senate Republicans who supported Garland’s confirmation this week included Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), among others, while those who were opposed include familiar names like Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Josh Hawley (Mo.). McConnell cited Garland’s “long reputation as a straight-shooter and legal expert” in support of his vote in favor of his confirmation, adding that, among other agenda items, authorities need “to continue the work of identifying, arresting, and prosecuting those who broke the law” during the January Capitol rioting. McConnell also insisted that Garland needs to approach the so-called “political violence” from left-wingers with “equal seriousness” — although it’s not Democrats who stormed the seat of U.S. government!

Other Senate Republicans who voted in favor of Garland’s confirmation included Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Bill Cassidy (La.), Richard Burr (N.C.), and Mitt Romney (Utah), all of whom voted in favor of Trump’s conviction at the conclusion of the former president’s recent impeachment trial on a charge of incitement of insurrection.

Check out a full list of the no votes on Garland below:

In stark contrast to the conduct of the Justice Department during the Trump era, Garland has pledged to maintain independence. As Garland put it, he intends to “fend off any effort by anyone” to exert political influence over the department. Garland also stated as follows, referring to Biden:

‘The President made abundantly clear in every public statement before and after my nomination that decisions about investigations and prosecutions will be left to the Justice Department. That was the reason that I was willing to take on this job.’

Besides the Capitol rioting investigation, Garland is facing other high-profile agenda items as he prepares to formally assume leadership of the Justice Department. For example, the department has an open investigation into prominent Trump ally Rudy Giuliani that stalled in the latter parts of the Trump era when political appointees at the Justice Department resisted granting authorization for a search warrant that would have swept up Giuliani’s communications. Giuliani has faced scrutiny over his overseas work, including the question of whether he conducted illegal covert lobbying on behalf of foreign interests in the U.S.