News and Commentary

Report: Cuomo Among Several Contenders For Biden AG
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden attends the announcement of the members of his health team, including his pick for secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, at the Queen Theater December 08, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Several candidates reportedly remain under consideration to serve as a first attorney general in a Joe Biden administration, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D).

The Associated Press, citing a person with knowledge of the search process, reported Friday that the New York governor was under consideration. Bloomberg News also reported Cuomo could be tapped for the job, citing “a person familiar with the matter.”

Cuomo recently said he has “no intention” of serving in a Democratic administration, although he previously served as state attorney general and as housing secretary in the final years of the Clinton administration, reports The Associated Press.

According to The Washington Post, however, the Biden team has been placing a stronger emphasis on selecting an attorney general candidate who could pass confirmation in the Senate  a standard that has reportedly made selecting another Northeastern governor, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D), “unlikely.”

As such, the Post reports, the Biden team has increasingly focused on three candidates for the position: Outgoing Alabama Senator Doug Jones, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and former D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Merrick Garland.

Jones is reportedly the favorite among the trio, as “people familiar with the discussions” believe he would have an easier time in the confirmation process than Yates, who was fired after serving as acting attorney general in the Trump administration for 10 days.

As the junior U.S. senator from Alabama, a deep red state, Jones has been slightly more willing to stray from Democrats than blue or purple state senators.

For example, he teased at acquitting Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, although he ultimately voted to convict the president, having “reluctantly” arrived at his decision to convict him for obstruction of Congress and abuse of power after “many sleepless nights.”

From The Washington Post:

With Jones’s stock on the rise, some civil rights leaders have privately expressed some reservations to members of Biden’s inner circle in recent days about whether his record on criminal justice reform and civil rights is sufficient. As a U.S. attorney in Alabama in the Clinton administration, Jones famously prosecuted members of the Ku Klux Klan who bombed a Black church in Birmingham in 1963, killing four girls. The case had been stymied by then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, but was resuscitated in 1971 and then again in 1993 at the urging of civil rights leaders.


But — publicly and privately in conversations with those close to Biden — some civil rights leaders have suggested the case does not, by itself, demonstrate the kind of proven track record on civil rights and criminal justice reform they would like to see in an attorney general.

A “person close to the Biden transition” told CNN earlier this week that “all signs point to Doug Jones” receiving the nomination. However, Biden notably hasn’t picked the presumed front-runner in every circumstance. The former vice president surprised many when he tapped California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to run the Department of Health and Human Services.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated. One of the impeachment charges against President Trump was obstruction of Congress, not obstruction of justice, as was previously written.

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