Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has refused a call to hold a quick confirmation hearing for Merrick Garland, who President Joe Biden has nominated to serve as the nation’s attorney general. Garland’s hearing is scheduled for February 8.
Graham says the hearing is designed to “score political points” ahead of the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, which is scheduled for February 9. Graham still counts himself among Trump’s most loyal supporters despite the former president’s role in inciting a violent insurrection against Congress last month.
“Your request is highly unusual,” Graham wrote in a letter to incoming Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Monday. “The Senate is about to conduct its first ever impeachment trial of a former president, and only its fourth trial of a president, incumbent or not. Under the procedure the Senate has adopted, Donald Trump’s trial is set to start on February 9. But you want us to rush through Judge Garland’s hearing on February 8.”
“An impeachment is no small thing. It requires the Senate’s complete focus,” he added. “Democrats do not get to score political points in an unprecedented act of political theater on one hand while also trying to claim the mantle of good government on the other.”
Durbin had earlier sent Graham a letter telling him there was “simply no justification” to object to the date of Garland’s hearing.
“The Attorney General oversees a multitude of Justice Department components and agencies that are vital to protecting the homeland from threats both foreign and domestic. Expediting Judge Garland’s confirmation is particularly urgent in the aftermath of January 6 insurrection. As numerous Committee Republicans have recognized, the Senate should prioritize the confirmation of a President’s national security nominees and afford considerable deference to a President’s Cabinet selections. We should not apply one standard to Republican nominees and a different standard to Democratic ones,” said Durbin. “Although I hope we can proceed in a bipartisan fashion, I am prepared to take other steps to expedite the Senate’s consideration of Judge Garland’s nomination should his hearing not go forward on February 8.”