Biden nominates Judge Merrick Garland as attorney general, names other key DOJ picks

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President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday formally announced he will nominate Judge Merrick Garland as his attorney general, as well as other key nominations to the Justice Department.

Sources told Fox News on Wednesday that Biden intended to nominate Garland, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to lead the Justice Department.

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“Our first-rate nominees to lead the Justice Department are eminently qualified, embody character and judgment that is beyond reproach, and have devoted their careers to serving the American people with honor and integrity,” Biden said in a statement Thursday morning. “They will restore the independence of the Department so it serves the interests of the people not a presidency, rebuild public trust in the rule of law, and work tirelessly to ensure a more fair and equitable justice system.”

Biden added: “They are among the most accomplished legal minds in our country who also reflect the best of America’s full range of talents and background. I am honored they accepted this call to serve at such a critical time in our nation’s history.”

Garland rose to greater national prominence when then-President Obama nominated him for the U.S. Supreme Court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016. He never received a hearing, as Republicans chose to wait until after that year’s election, allowing President Trump to appoint Justice Neil Gorsuch instead.

Republicans faced intense criticism from Democrats in 2020, when weeks before the presidential election they filled a Supreme Court vacancy by confirming Justice Amy Coney Barrett, following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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Garland has served on the D.C. Circuit since 1997, when he was appointed by President Bill Clinton. He was the court’s chief judge from 2013 to 2020. He does have Justice Department experience, having been a special assistant attorney general from 1979 to 1981, a deputy assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s criminal division from 1993 to 1994, and a principal associate deputy attorney general from 1994 to 1997.

If he is confirmed as the next attorney general, Garland would be giving up a lifetime appointment to the circuit court.

Meanwhile, Biden also announced that Lisa Monaco, a veteran prosecutor would be nominated to serve as deputy attorney general. Monaco served in the Justice Department for 15 years, as assistant attorney general for national security, a senior official in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, and as a career prosecutor.

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The Biden transition team called Monaco a “trailblazer for women in national security,” and “one of the most senior women on President Obama’s national security team.”

Monaco also previously served as counsel and chief of staff to Robert Mueller when he served as FBI director.

Biden also announced Thursday that he would nominate Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general, calling her “one of the best-known and most respected civil rights attorneys in America.” Gupta previously served as acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department, and will be the first woman of color to serve in the role.

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And Biden also nominated Kristen Clarke to serve as assistant attorney general for civil rights. Clarke began her career at the Justice Department, handling cases of police misconduct, hate crimes, human trafficking, voting rights and redistricting cases.

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer, Jacqui Heinrich and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report. 

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