Vice President Mike Pence does not support Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to succeed James Comey as FBI director, contrary to reports Thursday indicating Pence was intrigued by the idea.
Fox Business reported late Thursday that Republican Sen. Mike Lee proposed installing Garland, former President Barack Obama’s ill-fated Supreme Court nominee, as Comey’s successor during a meeting with administration officials and congressional leaders to discuss tax reform. The report indicated that Pence and White House counsel Don McGahn “saw merit in the idea,” though other White House officials objected in short order.
“That report does not accurately portray the Vice President’s reaction,” Pence’s office told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The Vice President is always open and encourages Members to make suggestions on potential nominations but offered no reaction on any of the names suggested.”
Something of a Garland-boomlet has gained traction in GOP circles following Comey’s abrupt dismissal Tuesday evening. Lee expressed support for Garland’s appointment on Twitter Wednesday morning, drawing a favorable response from Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch told the Washington Examiner that he put forward Garland’s name in conversations with White House officials.
Prior to his appointment to the federal bench, Garland served as a prosecutor at the U.S. Department of Justice, ascending to the highest echelons of the Department while supervising high-profile, politically sensitive cases.
Incredulous legal commentators accused Republicans of base politicking, arguing Garland’s name was only put forward in hopes of creating a vacancy of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the appeals court on which Garland currently serves. Democratic appointees currently enjoy a 7-4 majority on the panel, widely considered the second most powerful in the country. Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick characterized the proposal as “the most amazing Republican troll job yet,” while Brookings Institution scholar and Lawfare editor Benjamin Wittes dismissed the idea out of hand.
The White House offered no comment when asked by TheDCNF if Garland is under consideration for the appointment.
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