The South Carolina Republican said in a letter that a “one-day hearing” was “insufficient,” and noted that previous attorney general nominees received two-day hearings.
“When the Senate’s focus is required to consider whether to bar a former president from being reelected, other business must stop,” Graham wrote. “Proceeding with the confirmation of an attorney general and the impeachment of a former president at the same time would give neither the attention required.”
Until Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer strike an agreement, Graham will continue to determine the panel’s schedule rather than Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin. The party leaders could finalize a deal as soon as Tuesday; Graham said he guessed he’d be Judiciary committee chairman for “another day or two.”
McConnell declined Tuesday to comment on the topic. Durbin said that the party leaders are haggling over a final few points before finalizing the power-sharing agreement that will officially allow Democrats to take their chairmanships of key Senate committees. Democrats will hold a majority in the 50-50 Senate because Vice President Kamala Harris has the power to break tie votes in the chamber.
Durbin blamed McConnell for the holdup and said he has “several options” to schedule Garland’s hearing. He declined to provide details.
“I don’t like any of them,” he said. “I think February 8 is the best, fairest way to do it.”
“Sorry to say that Judge Merrick Garland, who is a wonderful man, is going to retire the trophy for bad behavior by the United States Senate,” he added, referring to how Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court was ignored by the GOP Senate majority in 2016.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday he’s inclined to vote for Garland. He said he would support an “early” committee hearing and would “encourage” Graham to schedule one.
“I would support an early markup for Merrick Garland,” Cornyn said. “I think he’s not political, which is my number one criterion for the next attorney general.”
Graham said he also liked Garland.
“I’ll probably vote for him,” said the senator.
This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.
CNN’s Chandelis Duster and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.