Sen. Mike Lee throws out bold suggestion for new FBI director, and the idea’s catching on

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Why not? Screenshot of Merrick Garland, chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

This may be just the pacifier they need.

Democratic lawmakers who wanted FBI Director James Comey fired, but who were later incensed that President Trump fired him, are being offered a two-for-one consolation prize.

Republican senators suggest nominating Judge Merrick Garland, former President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, to take Comey’s place.

The clever suggestion, which was forwarded on to the White House, is the brainchild of Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch, both of whom represent Utah.

“I suggested that [the White House] ought to consider him,” Hatch told reporters on Thursday, The Hill reported. “I didn’t say they should just pick him. I know they’ve got some really excellent people, but I said put Merrick in the list too.”

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Lee suggested that a Garland appointment could have the added advantage of quelling Democratic calls for a special prosecutor to look into an alleged Trump-Russia connection.

Lee spokesman Conn Carroll assured The Hill that Lee’s support for Garland was sincere.

“He’s eminently qualified and has the reputation needed to restore public confidence in FBI,” he told the publication.

The suggestion received some limited bipartisan support. Sen. Amy Klobuchar observed that it could be a good fit, given Garland’s prior experience as a prosecutor. She added, however, that whatever the result, a special prosecutor should be nonetheless appointed.

Lee disagreed on the special prosecutor notion.

The Minnesota Democrat got cold feet four hours after her original assent, responding to someone’s assertion that Garland should remain on the bench.

The Hill reported:

The GOP pitch to make Garland the nation’s top law enforcement officer is a reversal from last year, when Republicans refused to give him a hearing or a vote to join the Supreme Court. The move infuriated Democrats and allowed Trump to quickly appoint a justice after taking office.

 

The short-lived support given by Klobuchar wasn’t shared by her colleague, Sen. Brian Schatz. The Hawaiian Democrat saw boogey men wherever he looked.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee with Hatch and Lee, added his support for the idea.

“Put me on that list of floaters,” the South Carolina Republican said. “I like that. I think he’s a good guy.”

Sen. Roy Blunt observed that a Garland appointment would have one additional advantage: It would create a huge vacuum within the circuit court of appeals — one that the GOP could fill.

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“It would also create a vacancy in the important D.C. Circuit, so maybe I like it better the more I think about it,” the Missouri Republican told the Associated Press.

But don’t tell the Democrats.

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