Politics

Biden Introduces Merrick Garland As His Attorney General Pick

Merrick Garland (center), who's seen here in 2018, is President-elect Joe Biden's pick to be U.S. attorney general.
Merrick Garland (center), who's seen here in 2018, is President-elect Joe Biden's pick to be U.S. attorney general.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Updated at 2:45 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden introduced his choice for U.S. attorney general, Judge Merrick Garland, during an event on Thursday in Wilmington, Del.

Garland is currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington. But he is likely best known as a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court who was refused even a hearing by Senate Republicans after President Barack Obama nominated him to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.

Garland also previously served in the Justice Department, leading investigations into the "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski and into the Oklahoma City bombing.

"Entering the Department of Justice will be a kind of homecoming for me," Garland said.

He echoed Biden's long-stated goals about what the men called the importance of restoring the reputation of the Justice Department, which they and some other critics argue has been tarnished under President Trump.

Biden, for his part, stressed that he viewed the Justice Department and the attorney general as independent and sought to make a strong contrast with the way he said they'd operated under Trump.

Biden also announced he intends to nominate Lisa Monaco to the Justice Department's second-highest post, deputy attorney general. Monaco is another Justice Department veteran, and the first woman assistant attorney general for national security. Monaco also served as White House homeland security and counterterrorism adviser under Obama.

Biden also tapped Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general. She now heads the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and was previously assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department.

The president-elect said he's nominating Kristen Clarke to fill that post in his administration. She is now president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Clarke also served in the Justice Department in the Civil Rights Division and as a prosecutor in the Criminal Division.

Biden addressed his intended nominees and the current employees of the Justice Department on Thursday.

"You won't work for me," he said. "You are not the president's or the vice president's lawyers. Your loyalty is not to me. It is to the law. To the Constitution. The people of this nation. To guarantee justice."

Thursday's event followed a day after supporters of Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol.

In a statement Thursday, acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said that "the DOJ is committed to ensuring that those responsible for this attack on our Government and the rule of law face the full consequences of their actions under the law."

That work may continue into the new administration, and Biden condemned the insurrection on Thursday, which he called the inevitable result of what he said was Trump's flirtation with white supremacists and extremists, and his continued attacks on democratic institutions.

"I wish we could say we couldn't see it coming," he said. "But that isn't true. We could see it coming."

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