Biden expected to name judge Merrick Garland as attorney general

The one-time Supreme Court nominee will be announced as Biden's AG pick on Thursday

FILE - In this July 22, 2019, file photo, Merrick Garland pays his respects for the late Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court in Washington. President-elect Joe Biden is set to name Garland as Attorney General. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
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President-elect Joe Biden is expected to name Merrick Garland, a federal appeals court judge, as his attorney general.

Mr Biden is expected to announce Mr Garland’s appointment on Thursday, both Politico and the Associated Press reported.

Mr Biden will also announce other senior leaders of the department, including former homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general and former Justice Department civil rights chief Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general.

In picking Mr Garland, Mr Biden is turning to an experienced judge who held senior positions at the Justice Department decades ago, including one as a supervisor of the prosecution of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Mr Garland was snubbed by Senate Republicans for a seat on the Supreme Court in 2016, refusing even to hold hearings when a vacancy arose, and Mr Biden's pick will force them to contend with this decision.  But Mr Biden may be banking on Garland’s credentials and reputation for moderation to ensure confirmation.

It will, perhaps, be easier for the president-elect to receive the approval of the nomination with control of the Senate, if both Georgia Senate run-off races go to the Democrats, and with vice president-elect Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker.

Mr Garland was selected over other finalists including Doug Jones, a senator from Alabama, and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates.

If confirmed, Mr Garland would confront immediate challenges, including an ongoing criminal tax investigation into Mr Biden’s son, Hunter, as well as calls from many Democrats to pursue inquiries into Mr Trump after he leaves office. A special counsel investigation into the origins of the Russia probe also remains open, meaning a new attorney general will need to decide how to handle it and what to make public.

Mr Garland would also inherit a Justice Department that has endured a tumultuous four years and would likely need to focus on civil rights issues and an overhaul of national policing policies after months of mass protests over the deaths of black Americans at the hands of law enforcement.