Trump met with US attorney nominee before her selection: report

President Trump personally met with a U.S. attorney nominee prior to her selection in June in an unusual move that raised red flags for former officials, CNN reported Thursday.

A number of former Justice Department and White House sources told CNN the rare meeting is at odds with the custom of guarding U.S. attorneys from political influence, especially considering that she would be the leading the largest federal prosecutor’s office in the country.

Jessie Liu, the current deputy general counsel for the Treasury Department and Trump's pick for U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said in her responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee that she met with Trump as part of the interview process.


"I attended formal interviews at the Department of Justice, including with the attorney general," Liu wrote to the Senate committee. "I also interviewed with representatives of the White House Counsel's Office and then met the President with the White House counsel."

“No one has asked me to commit that I will be loyal to the President or the Attorney General, and I have not made such a commitment,” Liu continued.

"It's wrong, and the reason it's wrong is that it serves to undermine the rule of law," former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Joyce Vance told CNN. "This goes to the independence of the Justice Department" and "any effort by any president to diminish that is problematic."

One former White House counsel echoed the concerns, saying that because it would be virtually impossible for a president to meet with all 93 presidentially appointed U.S. attorneys prior to nomination, “it is fair to ask why President Trump chose to meet only with the candidate for the US attorney in Washington, DC.”

But Donald Verrilli, former U.S. solicitor general under President Obama, told CNN that the meeting isn’t concerning.

"Based on my time at [the Justice Department] and White House Counsel's Office, it doesn't strike me as especially unusual to have a brief meeting — assuming that's what happened here — with the president for candidates for the leading U.S. attorney positions," Verrilli said.

News of Liu’s meeting with Trump comes after the president attacked high-ranking Justice and law enforcement officials in an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday.