Judge Merrick B. Garland speaks after being nominated to the US Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House, March 16, 2016 in Washington.
President-elect Joe Biden will name federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland to be his attorney general, two people familiar with the matter told CNBC.
Former President Barack Obama nominated Garland to the Supreme Court, but his nomination was blocked by the Republican Senate, which refused to even hold hearings for the judge.
Garland, a widely respected lawyer, has served as the chief judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals since 2013. The 68-year-old appointee of former President Bill Clinton is considered a centrist, though he has often ruled conservatively in criminal cases.
Garland will face pressure from liberals to prosecute President Donald Trump after Biden takes office on Jan. 20. Biden has said he will leave such decisions to the Department of Justice and that he intends to support the independence of his attorney general.
Another test for Garland, if he is confirmed, will be how to handle an investigation into Hunter Biden, the incoming president’s son. Hunter Biden revealed last month that a federal investigation is underway into his taxes.
The news of Biden’s intentions came a day after Senate runoff elections in Georgia which were set to determine the partisan balance of Congress’s upper chamber.
Democrats had expressed concern that if Garland was confirmed as the attorney general that Republicans would block Biden’s efforts to replace him on the appeals court if they still held control of the Senate.
Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, is projected to defeat Republican Kelly Loeffler, while Democrat Jon Ossoff is leading against Republican David Perdue in a race that is too close to call, according to NBC News.
If both Democrats are successful, the party will hold 50 seats in the 100-person body and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be able to cast tie-breaking votes.
Garland could not immediately be reached. An email seeking comment from the D.C. circuit appeals court was not returned.
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