President-elect Joe Biden formally introduced Judge Merrick Garland to serve as attorney general and announced other top appointments to the Justice Department on Thursday as he fills in the remaining Cabinet positions less than two weeks before he assumes the presidency.
Biden, at a news conference in Wilmington, Del., said that Garland would “restore the honor, integrity and independence of the Department of Justice.”
“You won’t work for me. You not are not the president or vice president’s lawyer. Your loyalty is not to me – it’s to the law, the Constitution, the people of this nation to guarantee justice,” he said in introducing Garland, who worked at the Justice Department under former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
The former vice president began his remarks accusing President Trump of inciting the riots on Wednesday that involved pro-Trump supporters storming the US Capitol and wreaking chaos until law enforcement officials could regroup and bring in reinforcements to remove them.
“As everyone who watched yesterday’s events in Washington now understands, if they did not understand before, the rule of law is not just some lawyers’ turn of phrase, it is the very foundation of our democracy,” Garland said.
Garland, a federal appeals court judge, was blocked by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell when former President Obama nominated him in March 2016 to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court from Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.
McConnell refused to hold any hearings in the Senate on his nomination.
But Garland should find confirmation easier this time with the Democrats controlling the Senate after wins by Democrats Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock in Georgia Senate runoff elections Tuesday.
Moments before Biden was to take the stage, news outlets reported that he would name Boston Mayor Marty Walsh his Labor secretary and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as his Commerce secretary.
At the news conference, Biden also announced former Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general and former Justice Department civil rights chief Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general.
He also nominated Kristen Clarke, who founded the advocacy group Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, as assistant attorney general for civil rights.