The chance of Judge Merrick Garland becoming the next director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has diminished in just the past 24 hours as White House officials told Congressional lawmakers on Tuesday that they’re “not interested” in adding him to the potential short list of replacements for former FBI chief James Comey, FOX Business has learned.
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This new revelation comes as Garland has reportedly indicated to friends that he loves being a judge and has no intention of leaving the bench.
As the White House spread the word that they aren’t interested in nominating Garland to be the next FBI chief, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters on Capitol Hill that he recommended the former prosecutor to President Trump. It was unclear, at the time, the president’s reaction to McConnell’s proposal.
Garland’s office did not respond to repeated calls for comment.
Garland is currently the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals and while Republicans in Congress successfully blocked his appointment by President Obama to the Supreme Court during the 2016 presidential campaign, his legal credentials are well-established having served as both a prosecutor and corporate lawyer.
FOX Business was first to report that Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) pitched Garland as a possible Comey replacement on Wednesday during a private gathering at the White House with senior administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Don McGahn, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. When Lee floated the possibility of appointing Garland to the FBI post, the reception was mostly positive, with Pence and McGahn seeing merit in the idea. However, others in attendance said it was a non-starter given Garland's affiliation with the Obama administration.
FOX Business was also first to report that Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) proposed Garland as someone who should be considered to become the next FBI director during a phone conference on Wednesday with White House officials, including Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
Priebus agreed, according to numerous sources, and said including Garland on the list of candidates was “worthy of a conversation and consideration.”
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters did not respond to FOX Business’ request for comment.
Spokespersons for Senators Lee and Hatch had no comment.
It was always going to be a long shot for Garland to replace Comey, particularly after the outrage that came from the base of the Republican Party when Lee published a tweet voicing his support for Garland.
Ann Coulter, conservative social and political commentator, represented the right wing outrage when she tweeted on Sunday that she thought Lee was proposing Garland in order to gain support from Democratic opponents.
Sen. Mike Lee proposes Merrick Garland 4 FBI. PLEASE LIKE ME, DEMS! PLEASE! Can GOP think of anything other than how to get Ds to like them?— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) May 14, 2017