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Merrick Garland Confirmed As U.S. Attorney General

Merrick Garland, President Joe Biden‘s nominee for Attorney General, was confirmed Wednesday by the U.S. Senate.

Democrats have praised Garland as a highly qualified and honorable jurist who is uniquely qualified to lead the department after a tumultuous four years under former President Donald Trump. Many Republicans praised him as well, saying he has the right record and temperament for the moment. The vote was 70-30.

“After Donald Trump spent four years — four long years — subverting the powers of the Justice Department for his own political benefit, treating the attorney general like his own personal defense lawyer, America can breathe a sigh of relief that we’re going to have someone like Merrick Garland leading the Justice Department,” said Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, ahead of the vote. “Someone with integrity, independence, respect for the rule of law and credibility on both sides of the aisle.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — who prevented Garland from becoming a Supreme Court Justice in 2016 when he blocked his nomination — said he was voting to confirm Garland because of “his long reputation as a straight shooter and a legal expert” and that his “left-of-center perspective” was still within the legal mainstream.

“Let’s hope our incoming attorney general applies that no-nonsense approach to the serious challenges facing the Department of Justice and our nation,” McConnell said.

At his confirmation hearing last month, Garland said he hoped his tenure would “turn down the volume” at the Justice Department, removing it from the day-to-day political disputes that run through Washington. He told Senators that the attorney general is “not the president’s lawyer” while noting that as part of the executive branch, he will follow Biden’s lead on policy matters “as long as it is consistent with the law.”

Justice Department officials say Garland’s first briefing will be about the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack, as well as the ongoing security threats.

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