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Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland to face challenges that include links to Biden and Trump

February 19, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 22.8%. 2 min read.

Barring any surprises at his Senate confirmation hearing next week, Judge Merrick Garland appears poised to become President Joe Biden's first attorney general, bringing a longtime jurist with a steadying hand to a department that's teetering between crises.

(CNN)Barring any surprises at his Senate confirmation hearing next week, Judge Merrick Garland appears poised to become President Joe Biden's first attorney general, bringing a longtime jurist with a steadying hand to a department that's teetering between crises.

From the sprawling investigation into the January insurrection to sensitive probes of presidential allies, the caseload at the Justice Department is as controversial as ever, and Garland will be met by a workforce whose rejection of their previous boss's political maneuverings was unprecedented.

The question is whether and how he navigates the political parts of the job," said Sarah Isgur, the former public affairs chief for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had to confront a probe of President Donald Trump's ties to Russia upon his arrival to the Justice Department.

GOP senators, on the other hand, have already signaled they'll try to draw the judge out at his confirmation hearing on the hot-button federal investigations into New York's Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and the President's son, Hunter Biden, setting up the first opportunity for Garland to reveal how he'll handle his full plate of political problems.

"When Judge Garland testifies before this committee, we expect him to commit the Department of Justice to fully investigating this cover-up to determine whether any criminal laws were violated and to prosecute any violations," a group of Republican Senate Judiciary Committee members wrote in a letter released this week about the Cuomo case.

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, has already urged the current acting head of the Justice Department not to interfere with the case as it progresses, and a Republican aide said senators were planning to bring it up at Garland's confirmation hearing Monday and Tuesday.

Dissent among rank-and-file prosecutors reached a fever pitch at the Justice Department under the last Senate-confirmed attorney general, William Barr, who cast a polarizing figure after several news-making decisions that impacted the friends and political future of then-President Trump.

More than 200 men and women have been arrested so far in the investigation, which officials said was the department's largest since the one that followed the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and decisions about whether to bring significant charges like sedition in some of the cases will vex Garland in his early days at the agency.

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