Schumer says he won't return blue slip if Trump nominates Clayton as US attorney

Schumer says he won't return blue slip if Trump nominates Clayton as US attorney
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' A renewed emphasis on research and development funding is needed from the government Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs MORE (D-N.Y.) said on Monday that he will not return a blue slip if the administration nominates Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton to be the next U.S. attorney for Manhattan.

“As the senator from New York, I will not return a blue slip on Mr. Clayton’s nomination,” Schumer said from the Senate floor.

Schumer’s opposition to Clayton could represent a significant roadblock to President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeSantis on Florida schools reopening: 'If you can do Walmart,' then 'we absolutely can do schools' NYT editorial board calls for the reopening of schools with help from federal government's 'checkbook' Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone 'remains a convicted felon, and rightly so' MORE’s hopes of getting him confirmed as the next U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) as Trump takes sharp criticism over the ouster of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.

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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamRomney blasts Trump's Stone commutation: 'Historic corruption' Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump backs another T stimulus, urges governors to reopen schools MORE (R-S.C.) said over the weekend that he would “honor” the committee’s tradition of waiting to receive blue slips from home-state senators, which indicate if they support a nominee, before moving forward with the nomination. 

That would mean both Schumer and Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandDemocrats seek to tie GOP candidates to Trump, DeVos Democratic lawmakers call for expanding, enshrining LGBTQ rights The Hill's 12:30 Report: Fauci 'aspirationally hopeful' of a vaccine by winter MORE (D-N.Y.) would get blue slips giving them the possibility of blocking Clayton by not returning the pieces of paper if the administration moves forward with the nomination. 

"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," he added. 

Gillibrand has also signaled that she will oppose Clayton's nomination. 

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“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," she said in a statement. 

Attorney General Bill Barr said over weekend that Berman was "stepping down" and that the administration was intending to nominate Clayton, who was a longtime corporate lawyer but has not worked as a federal prosecutor. 

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Monday that the president nominated Clayton for the role because Clayton "wanted to go back to New York City.”

“We wanted to keep him in government and therefore he was given the position at SDNY," McEnany said. 

It wouldn't be the first time a senator blocked the Senate from confirming a U.S. attorney by not returning their blue slip. 

Berman, for example, was not confirmed by the Senate after Gillibrand vowed to oppose his nomination and not return her blue slip. Instead, he was appointed by the federal district court to stay in the position until a nominee was confirmed by the Senate.

Schumer reiterated on Monday that he believes Clayton should withdraw himself from consideration. 

"Jay Clayton should withdraw his name from consideration and refuse to be an accomplice to this scheme. There appears to have been no legitimate motive to fire Mr. Berman, which leaves the obvious question: were President Trump and the Attorney General trying to remove him for a corrupt motive?" Schumer said on Monday.