When President-elect Joe Biden officially presented his candidate for Secretary of Defense on Wednesday, the role of attorney general remains the largest outstanding position in the cabinet to be named.
Three leading candidates for the post are: Senator Doug Jones, Judges Merrick Garland and Sally Yates, who are familiar with the matter, say after Jeh Johnson informed Allies late Tuesday that he would not serve in the Biden administration.
Here are the most important things to know about the competitors:
- Jones: The Alabama Senator, who lost his race in November, is a leading candidate to run the Department of Justice, say those close to him, especially given his longstanding friendship with Biden and his strong civil rights record. He also fits a pattern that is developing among several key cabinet candidates: Biden appeals to people with whom he has close relationships, who are considered competent and who might find an easier way to validate. “All signs point to Doug Jones,” a person close to the Biden transition told CNN, but noted that Biden had failed to inform candidates of his final decision.
- Garland: The judge has also been under examination for weeks. Some people close to the process say his candidacy has gotten more serious in the last week and he remains an option. However, his nomination also faces bigger challenges than Jones, including a more complicated confirmatory battle, the US Appeals Court open position for the DC Circuit, and questions from civil rights groups. Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last year of the Obama administration
- Yates: A former assistant attorney general would also likely face more difficult confirmation than Jones. As a 30-year-old career officer at Justice, it is also an open question whether she is best placed to lead the department in the post-Trump era. She stood by while serving as assistant attorney general, while then-FBI director James Comey, who reported directly to her, repeatedly violated the Department of Justice’s guidelines on handling the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
CNN previously reported that Lisa Monaco, a former White House Homeland Security adviser who worked closely with Biden in his search for the Vice President, is also being considered for the position of Attorney General. Deval Patrick, the former Massachusetts governor and former civil rights chief in the Justice Department, was also considered.
A Biden interim official said a decision has not been made and a formal announcement is not expected this week.
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