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New York’s Cuomo among contenders for Biden attorney general pick, source says

Other candidates for top legal post are outgoing Alabama Senator Doug Jones, judge Merrick Garland and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo talks to reporters in Albany at a daily news conference about the coronavirus crisis, March 29, 2020. (Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo via JTA)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo talks to reporters in Albany at a daily news conference about the coronavirus crisis, March 29, 2020. (Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo via JTA)

WASHINGTON (AP) — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is one of several contenders under consideration by US President-elect Joe Biden for the role of attorney general, a person with knowledge of the search process said Friday.

The other three contenders at the moment include outgoing Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, said the person, who cautioned that no decision had been reached and no announcement was expected imminently.

The person was not authorized to discuss the search process by name and spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press.

The AP reported earlier in the week that Jones, who lost his Senate seat last month, and Garland, who was spurned by Republicans four years ago for a spot on the Supreme Court, had emerged as the two front-runners in the search process.

Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland receives applauds from President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as he is introduced as Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, March 16, 2016. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Spokespeople for Cuomo did not immediately return emails seeking comment Friday.

It was not clear to what extent the disclosure this week that federal prosecutors were investigating the finances of Biden’s son, Hunter, might have scrambled the attorney general search process since the person who is ultimately picked would inherit the probe, assuming it remains active next month.

It was also not immediately clear how seriously Cuomo was being considered or how any nomination of him would be greeted by either Republicans, given Cuomo’s antagonistic relationship with US President Donald Trump, or by civil rights activists who have encouraged Biden to build a diverse cabinet.

The Reverend Al Sharpton, who was among advocates who met with Biden on Tuesday on the subject of diversity and civil rights, told reporters he had encouraged Biden to select a Black attorney general but gave him room to select someone of another race as long as they had a background in civil rights.

Cuomo has been asked in recent weeks about his interest in the attorney general spot. Just this week, he said in a public radio interview in New York, “I have no intention to run for president or vice president, or go to the administration.” But he said the attorney general job “is really critical, especially now.”

A former state attorney general and Housing and Urban Development secretary in the Clinton administration, Cuomo has been governor of New York since 2011 and has been the public face of the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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