DOJ employees welcome newly confirmed Attorney General Merrick Garland with cheers and applause on his first day

Merrick garland
President Joe Biden’s pick for attorney general Merrick Garland, second right, arrives for his first day at the Department of Justice, Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Washington. Garland, a one time Supreme Court nominee under President Obama, was confirmed Wednesday by a Senate and will be sworn in later today. AP
  • DOJ employees greeted AG Merrick Garland with applause on his first day on the job.
  • The Senate confirmed Garland to lead the agency on Wednesday by a vote of 70-30.
  • Garland previously worked at the DOJ and oversaw the prosecution of Timothy McVeigh, who carried out the Oklahoma City bombing.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Department of Justice (DOJ) employees welcomed Attorney General Merrick Garland with cheers and applause on Thursday as he arrived for his first day.

It’s customary for federal employees to welcome new Cabinet appointees to the job. And for Garland, 68, the DOJ is familiar territory. The former federal appeals court judge started his professional career at the department in the 1970s under President Jimmy Carter. He gained prominence for overseeing the prosecution of Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted for carrying out the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people and injured nearly 700 more.

Garland enjoys broad, bipartisan support and is widely respected in the legal community. The Senate confirmed him as attorney general on Wednesday by a vote of 70-30, and he was sworn in on Thursday.

-Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) March 11, 2021

“Welcome back to DOJ Judge Garland!” said a tweet from the DOJ’s official Twitter account.

-Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) March 11, 2021

-Sadie Gurman (@sgurman) March 11, 2021

-Mike Balsamo (@MikeBalsamo1) March 11, 2021

At his confirmation hearings, Garland said he would prioritize investigating the deadly January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. FBI Director Christopher Wray will brief Garland about the probe on Thursday, and the attorney general will meet with Washington, DC, prosecutors working on cases against those charged in connection to the riot. He will also deliver a virtual address to the agency’s employees.

Garland made headlines when then President Barack Obama nominated him in February 2016 for a seat on the Supreme Court. But the Republican-controlled Senate and then Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stonewalled the nomination and refused to grant Garland a hearing.

The Kentucky Republican vowed at the time to keep the seat vacant until after the presidential election in November because American voters “should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.”

In 2019, McConnell reflected on his decision and said it was “the most consequential” one he’d ever made.

Last year, McConnell pushed through the confirmation of then Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett weeks before the November election. And on Wednesday, he voted to confirm Garland as attorney general.