President Trump has reportedly conducted interviews for at least two of the potential candidates for U.S. attorney positions in New York, according to a new report by Politico.
Sources told Politico that Trump has interviewed two corporate lawyers to be potential nominees: Geoffrey Berman for the U.S. attorney post in the Southern District of New York, and Ed McNally for the Eastern District of New York.
The interviews by Trump, an unusual move for a president, have raised eyebrows, leaving critics worried of potential conflicts of interest. U.S. attorneys are supposed to operate independently from the president
According to Politico, the dates the interviews took place are unknown.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee overseeing the candidate's confirmations, said he is considering opposing the nominations.
"To be very blunt, these three jurisdictions will have authority to bring indictments over the ongoing special counsel investigation into Trump campaign collusion with the Russians and potential obstruction of justice by the president of the United States,” Blumenthal told Politico. “For him to be interviewing candidates for that prosecutor who may, in turn, consider whether to bring indictments involving him and his administration seems to smack of political interference."
The White House did not deny reports and defended Trump's right to interview potential attorneys.
“We realize Senate Democrats would like to reduce this President’s constitutional powers,” a White House official told Politico. “But he and other presidents before him and after may talk to individuals nominated to positions within the executive branch.”
Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, said that Trump's interviewing of candidates who would have the authority to oversee cases potentially pertaining to Trump's past business ventures in the city "reasonably raises a number of questions."
"It is neither normal nor advisable for Trump to personally interview candidates for US Attorney positions, especially the one in Manhattan," Bharara tweeted Thursday.
Bharara was fired by Trump during the White House transition, a typical move for incoming administrations. However, the firing came after Trump previously told the attorney he could stay in his job.