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Senate confirms Merrick Garland as attorney general in 70-30 vote

Senate confirms Garland as U.S. attorney general
Senate confirms Merrick Garland as U.S. attorney general 00:22

Washington — The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Judge Merrick Garland as attorney general on Wednesday, five years after he was blocked from consideration as former President Barack Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court.

Garland's nomination sailed through the Senate 70-30, garnering bipartisan support. The Senate Judiciary Committee last week advanced his nomination with a vote of 15 to 7, with four Republicans joining every Democrat in supporting Garland. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was instrumental in preventing Garland from receiving confirmation hearings in 2016, has said he would support Garland's nomination.

Garland, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, will take the reins of the Justice Department as federal prosecutors across the country pursue hundreds of cases against those involved in the Capitol riots on January 6. 

During his confirmation hearings last month, Garland also pledged to depoliticize the Justice Department. Under former President Donald Trump, the department became embroiled in political scandals involving of Mr. Trump's closest allies, leading the president to accuse the department of being biased against him. Democrats accused former Attorney General William Barr of acting like the president's personal attorney in his handling of those cases.

Senate confirms Merrick Garland as attorney general 00:27

Garland vowed that as attorney general he would act in the interests of the American people, and pledged that he would fight efforts to make prosecutions or investigations partisan or political.

"I am not the president's lawyer. I am the United States' lawyer," he said.

Garland was nominated by Mr. Obama to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Antonin Scalia's death in February 2016, but Republicans blocked him from being considered, arguing that the seat should not be filled during an election year. The seat was later filled by Justice Neil Gorsuch, Mr. Trump's nominee. The Republican-controlled Senate later confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the court just days before the 2020 presidential election.

Garland's confirmation as attorney general opens up a vacancy on the D.C. Circuit, considered the nation's second most powerful court, for Mr. Biden to fill.

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