AP source: Cuomo among contenders for attorney general pick

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WASHINGTON (AP/WETM) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is one of several contenders under consideration by 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.

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 President Donald Trump, or by civil rights activists who have encouraged Biden to build a diverse cabinet.

The Rev. 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.”

In November shortly after the election, Cuomo told Howard Stern that he had “zero, nada, niente, zilch” contact with the Biden team about becoming Attorney General.

“I was in the middle of COVID when all this political conversation started, and I was desperate for a relationship and credibility with the people of my state, and the people across the country. And I know what they were thinking. They were thinking ‘oh, here is another politician, these politicians always have their own agenda, they’re always wanting to take the next step on the ladder.’ I needed to defuse that, and the way to defuse that, I said, ‘I am not interested in running for president vice president I’m not going to go to Washington, I have no agenda, put your cynicism and your skepticism aside, I have no agenda, besides you.’ I just want to do this job, so please hear what I’m saying, without all that skepticism.”

Cuomo previously downplayed the possibility of him becoming Attorney General after an Axios report that he was a contender for the job.

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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