Merrick Garland is testifying now before the Judiciary Committee five years after he became the poster child for the Republican blockade of an open Supreme Court seat in the final year of former President Obama’s term when Senate Republicans denied even a hearing for Garland as Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.
After Trump won the White House in 2016 and selected a new Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, Garland returned to his position as the chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. While he stepped down from that position a year ago, he remains on the appellate court and has served on the federal bench for more than two decades.
He’ll be leaving that appointment to take over a department often at the center of the political crises of the Trump administration.
While Republicans blocked Garland’s Supreme Court nomination, his selection at attorney general was lauded by both Democrats and Republicans on Monday, and he is expected to be easily confirmed.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the panel’s top Republican, used his opening statement to defend the 2016 decision he made as the committee’s chairman not to hold a hearing for Garland.
“I took a position on hearings and I stuck to it, and that’s it,” Grassley said. “I admire Judge Garland’s public service.”
Republicans have pressed Garland on whether he would allow the investigations into both Hunter Biden and the FBI’s handling of the 2016 Russia investigation to continue unimpeded.
Republicans also may push Garland to fully investigate Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, after reports last week that federal investigators were investigating his handling of some of the data surrounding Covid-19 deaths in long term care facilities in New York.