United States Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) tweeted his suggestion for the new FBI director after President Donald Trump abruptly fired James Comey Tuesday evening, and the suggested nominee left some social media users befuddled.
Lee, a staunch conservative, said Thursday that he believes Trump should nominate Judge Merrick Garland, former President Barack Obama's 2016 Supreme Court nominee. "Instead of a special prosecutor, @realDonaldTrump should nominate Merrick Garland to replace James Comey," Lee wrote.
Instead of a special prosecutor, @realDonaldTrump should nominate Merrick Garland to replace James Comey.
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) May 11, 2017
Although Lee was in favor of Senate Republicans denying Garland a Supreme Court confirmation hearing last year, saying that voters should have a say in late Justice Antonin Scalia's replacement, Lee's communications director Conn Carroll was quick to explain that Lee was in fact serious about the potential pick.
Carroll reportedly told The Hill that Lee believes Garland has the qualifications to get the job done.
"He's eminently qualified and has the reputation needed to restore public confidence in the FBI," he said.
He said on Twitter that Garland has extensive experience, citing the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing investigation as an example. "Merrick Garland has extensive prosecutorial experience including overseeing the OKC bombing investigation," Carroll said.
Merrick Garland has extensive prosecutorial experience including overseeing the OKC bombing investigation.
— Conn Carroll (@conncarroll) May 11, 2017
Lee echoed Carroll's sentiments during an appearance on Fox News Thursday morning, saying Garland has a long history of prosecutorial experience, and also would likely have supporters along both party lines.
"He's someone who's got likely allies as a potential FBI director nominee in both political parties," Lee said.
If Garland was nominated and confirmed as FBI director, he would leave his post at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, a vacancy that Trump could then fill with his own pick.
Because Senate Democrats voted to change Senate rules in 2013, any executive nominee — which includes a potential FBI director — only needs 51 votes to clear the chamber.