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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 SchumerPew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Former state Rep. Vernon Jones launches challenge to Kemp in Georgia Schumer lays groundwork for future filibuster reform 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 TrumpFreedom Caucus member condemns GOP group pushing 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions' MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's new free speech site to ban certain curse words Secret Facebook groups of special operations officers include racist comments, QAnon posts: report 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 GrahamWall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study Biden aide: Ability to collect daily intel in Afghanistan 'will diminish' Leaving Afghanistan: Is it victory or defeat? 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 GillibrandIntelligence leaders warn of threats from China, domestic terrorism Jon Stewart accuses VA of being 'an obstacle' to burn pits medical care Family policy that could appeal to the right and the left 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.