Republican members of the Senate did what they could to cover up the fact that they’d treated Merrick Garland badly five years ago when they denied him a hearing for his nomination to the Supreme Court. Garland, now President Joe Biden’s nominee for Attorney General, sat for his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Monday morning and received a much warmer reception.
“I like you, I respect you, and I think you are a good pick for this job,” Senator Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the committee, told Garland. “I think you’re a very good pick for this job,” agreed SenatorLindsey Graham, who previously served as Judiciary chairman and appeared virtually to question Garland.
Garland was appointed to the federal appellate bench in 1997 by President Bill Clinton and was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2016 by then-President Barack Obama. Senate Republicans — including Grassley and Graham — blocked holding a public hearing for his nomination, eventually allowing Donald Trump to fill the seat with conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch. And when the same group of Republicans rammed through the nomination and confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, Garland’s name was often invoked to point out the GOP’s overt hypocrisy.
Some of that was on display during the hearing, particularly when Ted Cruz, who’s trying everything possible to shake off his Cancun scandal to no avail, asked Garland about old conspiracy theories and pressed him on the “weaponization” of the Justice Department, conveniently overlooking the actions of the Former Guy’s Attorney General, Bill Barr.
Ted Cruz tries to change the subject from his Cancun vacation by ranting about Eric Holder and pushing years old debunked conspiracy theories and Merrick Garland's confirmation hearing. pic.twitter.com/Lqr8O5DpDA
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) February 22, 2021
Most of the Republicans kept it respectful, but stepped slightly over the line on occasion. Ben Sasse of Nebraska asked about Garland’s views on the investigation into sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said she wanted to make sure an investigation into the taxes of Hunter Biden, the president’s son, could continue without impediment.
Perfect day. Garland likely to get 80 or more votes. Vance getting Trump tax returns. And I got a civid vaccine appointment for tomorrow.
— Jill Wine-Banks (@JillWineBanks) February 22, 2021
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., asked Garland about his thoughts on defunding the police. Garland noted that the Biden administration’s stated policy is that more money should be spent for both police and programs for mental health and drug counseling. He also noted the difficulty police face, citing the bodycam footage from the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection played during Trump’s impeachment trial. Hawley was one of the leading Republican opponents of certifying Biden’s win, which the pro-Trump rioters descended on the Capitol to stop on Jan 6.
The more I hear Merrick Garland, the more I love him. And the more I love him, the more enraged I am that Neil Gorsuch is sitting in his Supreme Court seat.
— Bryan Behar (@bryanbehar) February 22, 2021
“You’ll be a good attorney general,” said Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana after a discussion on the definitions of racial bias.
Thank you Merrick Garland for understanding the role of the Attorney General, which the prior Administration did not. https://t.co/9mBUDn1pBS
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) February 22, 2021