Senator pitched Merrick Garland for FBI director to White House

PHOTO: Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, center, stands as President Barack Obama, right, and Vice President Joe Biden applaud as he is introduced as Obama?s nominee for the Supreme Court, March 16, 2016, in Washington. PlayEvan Vucci/AP Photo
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Sen. Mike Lee raised eyebrows in Washington, D.C., today for his suggestion that former Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland could lead the FBI, a pitch that was heard by the White House first, according to his spokesman.

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Lee, R-Utah, visited the White House for a tax reform meeting Wednesday. The spokesman said Kee raised the possibility of Garland as a replacement for recently fired FBI Director James Comey with President Donald Trump's staff. The spokesman noted, however, that the proposal was not made to Trump directly or during the tax reform meeting.

"I think it has some advantages to it because ... this is someone who has a lot of bona fides as a prosecutor," said Lee on Fox News Thursday morning. "He has been one who has got allies as a potential director nominee in both political parties."

Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Barack Obama in March 2016 after the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. After Senate Republicans refused to schedule a hearing on Garland, his nomination expired and President Donald Trump chose Judge Neil Gorsuch for the seat.

Nominating Garland for the FBI position would open his seat on the powerful D.C. circuit and provide Trump the opportunity to pick his own candidate for the lifetime appointment.

Some of Lee's colleagues dismissed the suggestions, while others appeared to endorse it.

"I like that," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said of the suggestion. "I think he's a good guy."

ABC News' Mary Bruce contributed to this report.

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