Merrick Garland, the appeals judge who waited 293 days for a Supreme Court hearing that never came, has told friends he has no intention of succeeding James Comey, whom President Donald Trump fired from his post as FBI director last week.
“He loves his job and is not interested in leaving the judiciary,” one of them told The Washington Post. NPR confirmed that two friends of Garland, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, said he won’t be springing for the chance to lead the bureau, if asked.
That’s a sensible choice for Garland — not just because he now holds a lifetime appointment in the most powerful appeals court in the country, but also because taking the position would put him at risk of being fired by Trump too.
Republicans in Congress began floating the idea of Garland to lead the FBI shortly after Comey’s unceremonious exit. Some observers viewed the suggestion as a scheme to give Trump a new vacancy on the D.C. Circuit court, which now has a majority of Democratic appointees.
But another reason Garland may not be inclined to take the job is the prospect of facing the very same Senate committee that never bothered to even give him a hearing as President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. After his nomination died with the end of the former Congress, Trump selected his own nominee, Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed in April.
Without a nod to this history, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Bloomberg News on Tuesday that he personally recommended that Trump select the judge for Comey’s old job.
“I think the most important thing is for the president to pick somebody who’s apolitical, who clearly has a deep law enforcement background,” McConnell said, adding that his nomination for the role could garner bipartisan support.
Garland’s leading antagonist in the Senate, it turns out, was McConnell himself.