The Senate voted to confirm Merrick B. Garland on Wednesday to serve as attorney general, giving the former prosecutor and widely respected federal judge the task of leading the Justice Department at a time when the nation faces domestic extremist threats and a reckoning over civil rights.
Mr. Garland was confirmed 70-30 by senators, with 20 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats in supporting him. He is expected to be sworn in at the Justice Department on Thursday.
NBC’s Pete Williams notes that Merrick Garland’s 70-30 confirmation is one of the largest votes in favor of an attorney general nominee in recent history, with the exceptions of Holder and Reno. @MSNBC
Politico is reporting President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate Judge Merrick Garland for U.S. Attorney General.
Biden selected Garland over former Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, choosing to elevate the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals in D.C. to run the Justice Department.
In a Republican-controlled Senate, Jones was viewed as the easiest candidate to get confirmed given his strong relationships across the aisle. Garland was also considered a risk in that it would be difficult to confirm a replacement for him on the appellate court.
But with Democrats expected to have won the majority with a pair of upset victories in Georgia, confirmation issues with other candidates largely dissipated. The announcement of the selection could come as early as Thursday, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) told reporters on Wednesday.
Donald Trump just tweeted the news that his Attorney General Bill Barr will be leaving his post.
“Just had a very nice meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr at the White House. Our relationship has been a very good one, he has done an outstanding job! As per letter, Bill will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family,” wrote Trump. “Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen, an outstanding person, will become Acting Attorney General. Highly respected Richard Donoghue will be taking over the duties of Deputy Attorney General. Thank you to all!”
There have been numerous reports for weeks that Trump was VERY unhappy Barr told the press no evidence of widespread voter fraud had been found by the Justice Department.
And so, out he goes…
…Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen, an outstanding person, will become Acting Attorney General. Highly respected Richard Donoghue will be taking over the duties of Deputy Attorney General. Thank you to all! pic.twitter.com/V5sqOJT9PM
House Democrats received a major win today when a federal judge not only ordered the secret grand jury evidence from the Robert Mueller investigation be turned over to the House Judiciary Committee but also declared that the current impeachment inquiry is a legal investigation.
The House Judiciary Committee is entitled to view secret grand jury evidence gathered by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, Judge Beryl A. Howell of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in a 75-page opinion. Attorney General William P. Barr had withheld the material from lawmakers.
Typically, Congress has no right to view secret evidence gathered by a grand jury. But in 1974, the courts permitted the committee weighing whether to impeach President Richard M. Nixon to see such materials — and, Judge Howell ruled, the House is now engaged in the same process focused on Mr. Trump.
“Tipping the scale even further toward disclosure is the public’s interest in a diligent and thorough investigation into, and in a final determination about, potentially impeachable conduct by the president described in the Mueller report,” she wrote.
In reaching her decision, Judge Howell rejected the contention by Mr. Trump and his allies that the investigation Democrats are pursuing, which has since expanded to encompass the Ukraine scandal, is not a legitimate impeachment inquiry.
Stunning rebuke of the DOJ’s argument from a federal judge:
“The Department of Justice claims that existing law bars disclosure to the Congress of grand jury information,” Judge Howell wrote. “DOJ is wrong.”
Within that ruling today, Judge Howell put the nail in Republicans’ bitching about the House process under way, too. “Even in cases of presidential impeachment, a House resolution has never, in fact, been required to begin an impeachment inquiry.” In the ruling. Yeah.
During testimony to Congress last month, Attorney General William Barr was directly asked by Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) if he was aware of any concerns/frustrations Special Counsel Robert Mueller or his team had regarding Barr’s now-infamous four page ‘summary’ of Mueller’s two year investigation.
But this week, news of a letter from Mueller to Barr expressing frustrations that Barr’s summary mischaracterized the investigation’s context and substance now puts Barr’s denial in a new perspective.
He had received the letter from Mueller and had a phone call with the Special Counsel about the summary. So, he lied to Congress when he said he didn’t know of any concerns on Mueller’s part.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was asked today how she felt about the statements by Barr.
Pelosi didn’t hold back. “He lied to Congress – if anyone else did that it would be considered a crime.”
Nancy Pelosi: “[Barr] lied to Congress. If anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime. Nobody is above the law. Not the President of the United States and not the attorney general.”
Via CBS pic.twitter.com/uJN6hUgpwY
Now, if you had a report that “totally exonerated” you of any wrongdoing, wouldn’t you want the world to see that?
Donald Trump tweeted this morning questioning why Congressional Democrats should be allowed to see the report filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller regarding Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“Why should Radical Left Democrats in Congress have a right to retry and examine the $35,000,000 (two years in the making) No Collusion Mueller Report, when the crime committed was by Crooked Hillary, the DNC and Dirty Cops? Attorney General Barr will make the decision!”
Why should Radical Left Democrats in Congress have a right to retry and examine the $35,000,000 (two years in the making) No Collusion Mueller Report, when the crime committed was by Crooked Hillary, the DNC and Dirty Cops? Attorney General Barr will make the decision!
Not retrying, just seeing it. What’s the use of having an investigation without reading the findings? Besides, it’s not just the “radical left democrats” who want to see the report. It’s all Americans, #dividerInChief#protesterInChief
Warren, D-Mass., was found to be in violation of the rule after reading from a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr. King submitted the letter to the Senate in opposition to Sessions nomination for a federal judgeship in 1986. He was not confirmed for the position.
Warren also quoted critical comments from former Sen. Ted Kennedy.
She was warned by Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana, who was the the presiding officer Tuesday night, after reading comments from Kennedy that called Sessions “a disgrace.”
About 20 minutes later, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, stopped Warren saying she had “impugned the motives and conduct of” Sessions.
Here is the part of the letter from King that McConnell objected to: “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”
Warren replied: “I am surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate.”
Warren is now barred from speaking in the Senate for the remainder of the confirmation debate on Sen. Sessions for Attorney General.
Here’s the 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King that Warren was reading from:
Here’s the moment Warren was told to sit down and shut up:
Democratic Sen. Cory Booker is set to testify against Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions Wednesday in an unprecedented move during his attorney general confirmation. This would be the first time in Senate history that a sitting senator will testify against another sitting senator for a Cabinet post during a confirmation.
“I do not take lightly the decision to testify against a Senate colleague,” Booker said. “But the immense powers of the attorney general combined with the deeply troubling views of this nominee is a call to conscience.”
Sessions’ confirmation hearings, which begin Tuesday, are expected to raise additional questions on old allegations of racism from his past. When Sessions was a 39-year-old US attorney in Alabama, he was denied a federal judgeship because the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony during hearings in March and May 1986 that Sessions had made racist remarks and called the NAACP and ACLU “un-American.”
Booker called Sessions’ record “concerning in a number of ways,” citing his opposition to bipartisan criminal justice reform and immigration reform, criticism of the Voting Rights Act and his “failure to defend the civil rights of women, minorities, and LGBT Americans.”
You can watch the hearing currently underway at the streaming link below:
Sarah Flores, a spokesperson for Sessions, told CNN this morning that Sessions considers the Obergefell decision, which made same-sex marriage the law of the land, “settled law.”
As AG, would Jeff Sessions challenge laws that he doesn’t support, like same sex marriage? His spokesman weighs in: https://t.co/Ven4Edakwz
A witness also testified Sessions said the Ku Klux Klan was okay “until I found out they smoked pot,” a comment Sessions insisted was a joke.
As senator, Sessions worked to oppose the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act, and voted for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. So, a friend of the LGBT community he is not.
Civil rights groups are not pleased with the AG nomination.
The last time Senator Sessions sought Senate confirmation was 1986 when he was nominated to be a federal judge. Despite the fact that Republicans controlled the chamber at the time, he was rejected because of a long history of racially insensitive remarks and a disastrous record on civil rights.
In the last 30 years, Sessions has done nothing that demonstrates that the Senate’s judgement was incorrect or that he’s learned from his mistakes. Instead, he’s spent years making a name for himself as one of the Senate’s most extreme anti-immigrant voices, even attacking the Constitution’s guarantee of birthright citizenship.
As a senator he’s voted in favor of torture programs under the Bush administration and opposed hate crime protections for LGBT people. If anyone still thinks that Donald Trump might govern with more responsibility or moderation than he campaigned, this nomination is a wakeup call. The Senate should reject this nomination.