Lindsey Graham is blocking confirmation of Merrick Garland — again.
The confirmation for President Joe Biden's attorney general pick, Judge Merrick Garland, is being held up by Senate Republicans, with outgoing Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) delaying a confirmation hearing for Garland, citing Donald Trump's impeachment trial.
Graham still holds the reins of the Senate Judiciary Committee for now, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell still has not agreed to a power-sharing resolution in the Senate — a necessary step in the evenly divided chamber. Both Democrats and Republicans have 50 seats, but Democrats have control of the chamber with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote.
Biden nominated Garland weeks ago, on Jan. 6. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who would be Senate Judiciary Chair had McConnell signed an agreement, sent a letter to Graham on Monday demanding he hold a confirmation hearing on Feb. 8, saying that the Senate Judiciary Committee has all of the documents needed to hold a hearing, and has had them since 2016, when Garland "provided a Questionnaire and thousands of pages of materials in connection with his Supreme Court nomination."
That year, McConnell, in an unprecedented step, refused to hold a hearing for Garland, let alone a vote on his confirmation, effectively stealing the Supreme Court seat from former President Barack Obama and allowing Trump to fill the seat once he took office in 2017.
Durbin also said that a Feb. 8 hearing gives the Senate Judiciary Committee the same amount of time to review the paperwork as the committee had when they held a hearing for Amy Coney Barrett to have a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, which Senate Republicans jammed through days before the November 2020 election.
"At this point, there is simply no justification to object to a February 8 hearing for Judge Garland," Durbin wrote in the letter, saying that a hearing that day would satisfy Graham's demand to not hold a confirmation hearing on the same day as the impeachment trial.
But Graham is still refusing to budge, saying that a Feb. 8 confirmation hearing for Garland is too soon and that a one-day confirmation hearing before an impeachment trial will not suffice.
Graham wrote in a response letter to Durbin:
The Senate is about to conduct its first-ever impeachment trial of a former president, and only its fourth trial of a president, incumbent or not. Under the procedure the Senate has adopted, Donald Trump’s trial is set to start on February 9. But you want us to rush through Judge Garland's hearing on February 8. An impeachment is no small thing. It requires the Senate's complete focus. This is why I didn't consider any judicial nominees during last year's impeachment trial. Democrats do not get to score political points in an unprecedented act of political theater on one hand while also trying to claim the mantle of good government on the other.
Graham has had weeks to review Garland's record and schedule a confirmation hearing. Yet rather than do that, Graham has been helping Trump with his impeachment trial, working to secure Trump a legal team that fell apart before the trial even started.
Durbin says the fact that Biden will not have a top law enforcement officer for weeks is a national security threat. The country is currently in a critical period in the response to the insurrection, with federal law enforcement officers working to arrest the thousands of pro-Trump insurrectionists who waged a domestic terror attack at the Capitol.
Trump, for his part, had his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, confirmed on Feb. 8, 2017 — nearly five years ago to the day. That means Biden will not have an attorney general for longer than Trump did, as Garland may not have even had a confirmation hearing at that date.
The GOP-controlled Senate held confirmation hearings for Sessions on Jan. 10, 2017 — 10 days before Trump even took office.
At the time, Republicans complained that Sessions' confirmation was being delayed too long.
"It is time to get over the fact that they lost the election," McConnell — who is currently refusing to turn over the majority that he lost — said in 2017. "The president is entitled to have his Cabinet appointments considered. None of this is going to lead to a different outcome."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.