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Merrick Garland confirmed as U.S. Attorney General

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On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Merrick Garland to the role of U.S. attorney general.

President Joe Biden‘s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) received overwhelming bipartisan support, with the Senate voting 70-30 in favor of confirming Garland, a federal appeals court judge.

RELATED: Merrick Garland dodges questions over allowing for completion of Durham probe

Previously, Garland was put forward by then-President Barack Obama as a moderate nominee to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat left vacant after conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died in early 2016. However, Senate Republicans led by then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) controversially blocked hearings on his nomination, arguing that no appointments should be made to the Supreme Court during a presidential election year.

“After Donald Trump spent four years—four long years—subverting the powers of the Justice Department for his own political benefit, treating the attorney general like his own personal defense lawyer, America can breathe a sigh of relief that we’re going to have someone like Merrick Garland leading the Justice Department,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) before the vote, per the Associated Press. “Someone with integrity, independence, respect for the rule of law and credibility on both sides of the aisle.”

Even Minority Leader McConnell—despite blocking Garland’s 2016 nomination—said he was voting to confirm the judge due to “his long reputation as a straight shooter and a legal expert” and that his “left-of-center perspective” was still within the legal mainstream, per the AP.

“Let’s hope our incoming attorney general applies that no-nonsense approach to the serious challenges facing the Department of Justice and our nation,” the Kentucky Republican added.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Trump: Tanks to Ukraine could escalate to use of ‘NUKES’

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Former President Donald Trump stated bluntly on Truth Social,  “FIRST COME THE TANKS, THEN COME THE NUKES. Get this crazy war ended, NOW. So easy to do!”

Trump was referring to the escalation of war in Ukraine. He, like many other commentators and lawmakers, are warning that the decision to continue sending weapons – and now tanks – could potentially lead to the use of “nuclear weapons.”

It’s mission creep and it’s dangerous, they say.

Why? Because Russian President Valdimir Putin has indicated in two different speeches that he would use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, if needed. Those warnings are not just bluster but a very real possibility.

And the escalation of war is visible.

Russia launched 55 missiles strikes across Ukraine Thursday, leaving 11 dead. The strikes come one day after the United States and Germany agreed to send tanks to Ukraine in an effort to aide the country. 47 of the 55 missiles were shot down according to Ukraine’s Air Force command.

Eleven lives were lost and another 11 were injured additionally leaving 35 buildings damaged in the wake of the attacks. According to The New York Times, Denys Shmyhal, said in a post on Telegram. “The main goal is energy facilities, providing Ukrainians with light and heat,” he said.

Ukraine is now demanding that they need F-16 fighter jets. In a post on twitter Ukrainian lawmaker, Oleksiy Goncharenko said, “Missiles again over Ukraine. We need F16.”

The US has abstained from sending advanced jets in the chances that a volatile decision could foster more dangerous attacks like former President Trump’s post on Truth referred to. If the US did authorize the decision to lend Ukraine the F-16 jets Netherlands’ foreign minister, Wopke Hoekstra, would be willing to supply them. According to The New York Times, Hoekstra told Dutch lawmakers, “We are open-minded… There are no taboos.”

F-16 fighter jets are complex to work on, they are not the average aircraft that can be learned in a matter of weeks. It can take months for pilots to learn how to fly these birds. European and US officials have the concern that Ukrainian forces could potentially use the jets to fly into Russian airspace and launch attacks on Russian soil.

Western allies are trying to avoid such a provocation, because that could lead to nuclear warfare in reference to what Putin has said he would do to defend his country.

 

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