Biden delays attorney general appointment


<p>President-elect Joe Biden looks at his watch as he arrives to announce former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg as his nominee for secretary of transportation during a news conference at Biden’s transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware on 16 December 2020</p> ((Reuters))

President-elect Joe Biden looks at his watch as he arrives to announce former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg as his nominee for secretary of transportation during a news conference at Biden’s transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware on 16 December 2020

((Reuters))

President-elect Joe Biden has delayed his appointment for attorney general and is unlikely to pick a nominee for the role before Christmas.

A person familiar with the matter told CNN on Tuesday that Mr Biden is no longer expected to pick his attorney general before Christmas, as he continues to deliberate on one of the more high-profile cabinet positions.

As one of the administration’s top roles, currently occupied by William Barr until 23 December after he resigned last week, the president-elect was expected to announce his nominee for attorney general before Friday.

The delay in choosing his attorney general, means that Mr Biden’s choice to lead the Justice Department will be announced later than the most recent presidents.

The decision is one of the most complicated in Mr Biden’s cabinet, as a possible investigation into his son Hunter Biden might need to be overseen by the nominee.

Last month, Hunter announced that federal investigators are looking into his taxes, while Politico reported that the securities fraud unit for the Southern District of New York is investigating his financial dealings.

Jen Psaki, who has been overseeing Mr Biden’s transition team’s confirmation process and will serve as his press secretary when he takes office, told Fox News Sunday earlier this month that any possible investigation into his son will not affect the president-elect’s decision.

“He will not be discussing an investigation of his son with any attorney general candidates. He will not be discussing it with anyone he is considering for the role. And he will not be discussing it with a future attorney general,” Ms Psaki said.

She added: “We’re going to allow the process to work how it should, which is for a Justice Department to be run independently by the attorney general at the top.”

Last week, CNN reported that the two most likely candidates for the attorney general role were Judge Merrick Garland and Alabama senator Doug Jones, with a decision to be made before Christmas.

Although Mr Jones is close to the president-elect, there are fears that Republicans could use that relationship to raise questions of impartiality.

In 2016, Judge Garland was nominated by former President Barack Obama for a seat on the Supreme Court, but never had his Senate confirmation hearing.

Having delayed the decision, the Biden transition team may look at other mooted candidates, including former acting attorney general Sally Yates, who also served in the Obama administration as the deputy attorney general.

CNN reported on Tuesday that Mr Biden is expected to nominate Connecticut commissioner of Education, Miguel Cardona, to be his administration’s education secretary. It is likely to be his final cabinet selection before Christmas.

The president-elect pledged last month to make his cabinet the “most diverse” in US history, and Mr Cardona would be the third Latino person nomianted in a role, after the previously announced Alejandro Mayorkas and Xavier Becerra.

Mr Mayorkas will serve as Mr Biden’s secretary of Homeland Security, while Mr Becerra will be his secretary of Health and Human Services. They will both be the first Latino people to hold the positions if confirmed by the Senate.

Following Mr Cardona’s expected nomination, Mr Biden has five more cabinet positions to pick before he is inaugurated on 20 January.

Alongside attorney general, Mr Biden will need to nominate someone for the position of secretary of Labor, secretary of Commerce, CIA director and Small Business administrator.

The Independent has contacted the Biden transition team for comment.

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