Merrick Garland, the former Obama Supreme Court nominee who is now President Biden's nominee for attorney general, began his two-day confirmation hearings on Monday. When Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) had his chance to question Garland, he wanted to know the nominee's opinion of a former controversial FBI director.
Graham reminded the panel that the Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz found that the FBI had abused the FISA process to get a warrant to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page in 2016, largely depending on a since debunked anti-Trump dossier written by former British spy Christopher Steele.
"Based on your review of the Horowitz Report, do you think Jim Comey was a good FBI director?" Sen. Graham asked the nominee.
"Senator, I really don't want to get into analyzing any of the previous directors," Garland replied.
"I just find it pretty stunning that you can't say, in my opinion, that he was a terrible FBI director," the senator said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tells AG nominee Merrick Garland: “I just find it pretty stunning that you can’t say, in my opinion, that [James Comey] was a terrible FBI director.” pic.twitter.com/nj5Jq5pQfJ— The Recount (@therecount) February 22, 2021
Garland did at least admit that the findings in Horowitz's report revealed "serious problems with respect to FISA applications, particularly for Mr. Page." Since those findings, lawmakers have pursued FISA reforms. If confirmed, Garland said he intends to speak to Mr. Horowitz and FBI director Christopher Wray about it and enact the changes that need to be made.
Still, despite his disappointment with Garland's non-answer, Sen. Graham said that he believes Garland to be a "very good" pick for attorney general and that he has a "very deep understanding of the threats America faces."
In his opening statement, Garland pledged that one of his top priorities would be to prosecute those involved in riots on Capitol Hill on January 6.
JUST IN: AG Nominee Merrick Garland opening statement for confirmation hearing Monday. Calls 1-6 "a heinous attack" and says he'll prosecute "white supremacists & others" involved. Heavy on DOJ's civil rights duties. Also: a vow to apply #FOIA 'generously' https://t.co/r6TUC9x9tY— Josh Gerstein (@joshgerstein) February 21, 2021