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Merrick Garland to be questioned on Cuomo, Hunter Biden and more at AG confirmation hearing

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Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s pick to be the next attorney general of the United States, is likely to be grilled by Senate Republicans Monday on hot-button issues, including the Cuomo nursing home scandal, concerns about Hunter Biden and more. 

Garland’s hearing starts at 9:30 a.m. and is expected to go until late in the evening. The hearing will continue Tuesday, but likely with outside testimony and not Garland himself. The hearing is the first high-profile nomination hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee with Democrats in charge of the Senate and Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., running the powerful committee. 

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Garland is a well-respected judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considered to be the second-highest court in the United States. He is expected to get enough votes to be eventually be confirmed as the next attorney general. But Republicans are likely to take advantage of the nationally televised hearing Monday to attack Democrats on major issues and to pin Garland down on some major decisions he’ll have to make if he is confirmed. 

Among the expected topics is the alleged cover-up by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of nursing home deaths that allegedly resulted from the state’s policies early in the pandemic.

In this Jan. 7, 2021, file photo, President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for attorney general Judge Merrick Garland speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

In this Jan. 7, 2021, file photo, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for attorney general Judge Merrick Garland speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

CUOMO SCANDAL WILL BE HOT TOPIC AS HEARINGS FOR BIDEN AG NOMINEE MERRICK GARLAND KICK OFF NEXT WEEK

“When Judge Garland testifies before this Committee, we expect him to commit the Department of Justice to fully investigating this cover-up to determine whether any criminal laws were violated and to prosecute any violations,” a group of nine Republicans led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in a letter last week. 

“We will also ask him whether he has the resources he needs to fully pursue an investigation, not only into the deaths that occurred in New York but the deaths that occurred in other states that adopted similar directives leading to the admission of COVID-19 infected persons into elder care facilities,” the senators continued. 

Cuomo denies any wrongdoing. But he has come under increasing fire from both the left and right, not only for his administration’s handling of the nursing home deaths but also the behavior of Cuomo and his aides toward those who criticize the governor. 

Outside of questions about how Garland feels about investigating Cuomo in principle, Garland may face more practical questions about who would end up handling an investigation of Cuomo.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to the press at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, on March 27, 2020. Cuomo is under fire for allegedly covering up nursing home deaths that allegedly resulted from the state's policies early in the pandemic.  (BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to the press at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, on March 27, 2020. Cuomo is under fire for allegedly covering up nursing home deaths that allegedly resulted from the state’s policies early in the pandemic.  (BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images)
(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images)

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Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, last week asked the Biden administration to retain Toni Bacon, who is the acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of New York. Bacon is one of a group of Trump-era federal prosecutors that the Biden administration has asked to resign. But Grassley said she should be kept to handle any investigation into the Cuomo administration because Acting Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss is the mother-in-law of top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa. 

Republicans have also telegraphed that Garland will face questions on the federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s “tax affairs,” which the president has steadfastly promised he will stay out of. Republicans may ask that Garland, a political appointee, stay out of the investigation himself. 

“Americans deserve to know that this investigation will not be hampered in any way by the change in administrations, and the attorney general nominee should make this point clear,” a spokesperson for Grassley previously told Fox News. “So yes, you can expect that Sen. Grassley will be asking about his role in this investigation.”

A spokesperson for committee member Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also previously said the topic is “very likely” to come up. 

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, for the next two years will be the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He's signaled that Republicans will pressure Biden attorney general nominee Judge Merrick Garland on how he will handle the investigation into Hunter Biden and the alleged cover-up of nursing home deaths by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, for the next two years will be the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He’s signaled that Republicans will pressure Biden attorney general nominee Judge Merrick Garland on how he will handle the investigation into Hunter Biden and the alleged cover-up of nursing home deaths by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

MERRICK GARLAND: WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT BIDEN’S ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE

One potential question is whether Garland will commit to not firing Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss. Weiss was one exception to the resignations requested by the Biden administration of Trump-era U.S. attorneys, and Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., in a letter last week asked Garland to commit to following the president’s lead. It’s possible Senate Republicans could bring up that topic too. 

Another potential topic is the investigation by Special Counsel John Durham, who is probing alleged wrongdoing by federal law enforcement in the investigation into whether then-candidate Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with the Russian government. Republicans will likely ask that Garland not interfere with that investigation. Garland may also face questions on President Biden’s changes of policy from the Trump administration on immigration. 

Garland, meanwhile, is expected to emphasize his commitment to prosecuting the members of the pro-Trump mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and his belief that the U.S. must do more to make sure its justice system treats all equally. 

In this Nov. 7, 2020, file photo, President-elect Joe Biden, right, embraces his son Hunter Biden, left, in Wilmington, Del. Hunter Biden says he has learned from federal prosecutors that his tax affairs are under investigation. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

In this Nov. 7, 2020, file photo, President-elect Joe Biden, right, embraces his son Hunter Biden, left, in Wilmington, Del. Hunter Biden says he has learned from federal prosecutors that his tax affairs are under investigation. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

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“If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6 — a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government,” Garland’s opening statement reads. “That critical work is but a part of the broad scope of the Department’s responsibilities.”

He adds that the mission to uphold all Americans’ civil rights “remains urgent because we do not yet have equal justice. Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment, and the criminal justice system; and bear the brunt of the harm caused by pandemic, pollution, and climate change.”

Garland was former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in 2016 after Justice Antonin Scalia died. But Republicans refused to give him a hearing, saying they believed that the winner of that election should have the opportunity to replace Scalia. Justice Neil Gorsuch now occupies that seat. 

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and Evie Fordham contributed to this report. 

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