McConnell says he recommended judge Merrick Garland to Trump for FBI head



WASHINGTON, May 16 (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday he has told President Donald Trump that he should pick federal appeals judge Merrick Garland to succeed ousted director James Comey at the head of the FBI.

Speaking in an interview on Bloomberg Television, McConnell said he has spoken with Trump and that Garland, a former federal prosecutor, would be "an apolitical professional" to head the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

SEE ALSO: Reuters/Ipsos poll: A majority of Americans want an 'independent' investigation of Trump

Garland was Democratic former President Barack Obama's nominee to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, but Senate Republicans led by McConnell refused to act on the nomination for nearly a year. The delaying tactic allowed Trump to nominate conservative Neil Gorsuch to fill the seat after he took office in January.

12 PHOTOS
Inside the hearing for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch
See Gallery
Inside the hearing for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch
With his wife Louise looking on,U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch testifies during the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2017.
U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch testifies during the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2017.
U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch testifies during the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2017.
Former U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) (from L) and Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch's wife Marie Louise Gorsuch listen to opening statements from fellow senators during the first day of Gorsuch's Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
With his wife Louise looking on, U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch testifies during the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
With his wife Louise (2ndL) and former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (L) looking on,U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch testifies during the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Neil Gorsuch (C) leaves after his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing as US President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill, in Washington March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool
Neil Gorsuch takes an oath during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing as US President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill, in Washington March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool
U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch is embraced by his wife Marie Louise after he thanked her in his opening statement at his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Neil Gorsuch takes an oath during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing as US President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill, in Washington March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch looks at his papers as he delivers his opening remarks at his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Garland, 64, has been praised by both Democrats and Republicans in his 20 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, often called the second highest court in the country. His appointment there is a lifetime one, and if he took on a 10-year term at the FBI it would open up a top judicial seat for the Republican president to fill.

Trump fired Comey last Tuesday, sparking a tide of criticism in light of the FBI's probe of alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election and possible ties between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

Comey's replacement would need to be someone with a deep background in law enforcement and no history of political involvement, McConnell said. Garland "is an example of that," he added. "It would serve the country well and lead to, I think, a more bipartisan approach."

9 PHOTOS
Obama appoints new Supreme Court justice Merrick Garland
See Gallery
Obama appoints new Supreme Court justice Merrick Garland
FILE PHOTO -- U.S. President Barack Obama annnounces Judge Merrick Garland (R) of the United States Court of Appeals as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, meets with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, meets with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (unseen) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: U.S. President Barack Obama and Judge Merrick Garland, the president's nominee to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, walk into the Rose Garden at the White House, March 16, 2016 in Washington, DC. Merrick currently serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and if confirmed by the US Senate, would replace Antonin Scalia who died suddenly last month. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: Judge Merrick Garland speaks after being introduced by U.S. President Barack Obama as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House, March 16, 2016 in Washington, DC. Garland currently serves as the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and if confirmed by the US Senate, would replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia who died suddenly last month. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama, left, shakes hands with Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, following the announcement of his nomination for the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 16, 2016. The nomination escalates a battle that will dominate the final 10 months of Obama's presidency, as the White House is locked in an unprecedented dispute with Senate Republican leaders who have pledged to ignore the president's choice. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Barack Obama, center, announces his nominee for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, right, as Vice President Joseph 'Joe' Biden looks on in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 16, 2016. The nomination escalates a battle that will dominate the final 10 months of Obama's presidency, as the White House is locked in an unprecedented dispute with Senate Republican leaders who have pledged to ignore the president's choice. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US President Barack Obama joins his Supreme Court nominee, federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland (L), during the nomination announcement the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, March 16, 2016. Garland, 63, is currently Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The nomination sets the stage for an election-year showdown with Republicans who have made it clear they have no intention of holding hearings to vet any Supreme Court nominee put forward by the president. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

It was not clear how Democrats, who strongly backed Garland for the Supreme Court, would react if he were nominated to the FBI. Democrats have threatened to hold up a vote on a new FBI director until a special prosecutor is named to investigate potential ties between Trump's campaign and Russia.

Representatives for Garland have not responded to repeated requests for comment regarding talk by some lawmakers floating the possibility of his nomination. National Public Radio, citing two sources close to Garland, reported that he intends to remain in his current judicial post.

At least 11 people have been under consideration for the FBI top job. Trump said on Monday his search was moving quickly, even as some possible contenders withdrew their names from contention, including U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy.

14 PHOTOS
Possible replacements for FBI director James Comey
See Gallery
Possible replacements for FBI director James Comey

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe

REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating  

REUTERS/Adrees Latif AL

Former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

FBI Executive Assistant Director Richard McFeely

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas 

Former Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI) 

Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)

Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe

 (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

FBI Criminal Cyber, Response ad Services Branch Executive Assistant Director Paul Abbate

Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Former NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers

Photo by Stacie Scott-Pool/Getty Images

Former Prosecutor Michael Garcia

Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

Federal Judge Henry Hudson

Photo by Jay Paul for The Washington Post via Getty Images

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

In the 1990s, as a senior Justice Department official under former Democratic President Bill Clinton, Garland oversaw the prosecution in the Oklahoma City bombing case in which 168 people were killed. (Reporting by Susan Heavey and Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.