Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced Saturday that President Donald Trump’s replacement for U.S. Attorney in the southern district of New York will have to go through top Senate Democrats.
Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that he will not consider Trump’s replacement nominee unless both New York senators — Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand — give the nominee a “blue slip,” the signal that home-state senators approve of a federal judicial nominee.
Traditionally, not returning the blue-slips means the nomination will be blocked.
“As to processing U.S. Attorney nominations, it has always been the policy of the Judiciary Committee to receive blue slips from the home state senators before proceeding to the nomination,” Graham said in a statement. “As chairman, I have honored that policy and will continue to do so.”
Attorney General William Barr announced late Friday that Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman was leaving his job. In response, Berman, who has investigated some of Trump’s top political allies, quickly denied news of his departure, saying that he would remain in his role until the Senate confirmed his replacement.
According to CNN, Barr had asked Berman to quietly resign, offering him senior roles in the Justice Department as incentive. But because Berman refused, he was promptly fired by the president on Saturday.
In his initial statement on Friday, Barr announced that Trump would replace Berman with Jay Clayton, current chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Unfortunately for Clayton, both Schumer and Gillibrand said they will not support his nomination.
Schumer said in a statement on Saturday:
Forty seven years ago, Elliott Richardson had the courage to say no to a gross abuse of presidential power. Jay Clayton has a similar choice today: He can allow himself to be used in the brazen Trump-Barr scheme to interfere in investigations by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, or he can stand up to this corruption, withdraw his name from consideration, and save his own reputation from overnight ruin.
Furthermore, I am calling for the Department of Justice Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility to immediately launch an investigation into the reasons behind the decision by the president and the attorney general to attempt to dismiss Mr. Berman.
Gillibrand said, “I will not be complicit in helping President Trump and Attorney General Barr fire a U.S. attorney who is reportedly investigating corruption in this administration. Jay Clayton should withdraw his name from consideration immediately and remove himself from this sham.”
Meanwhile, Graham said, “I know Mr. Clayton and believe him to be a fine man and accomplished lawyer.”