Schumer calls on Clayton to withdraw from consideration to be US attorney
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is calling on Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman Jay Clayton to withdraw his name from consideration to be the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
“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,” Schumer said in a statement.
Attorney General Bill Barr announced on Friday night that Clayton would be nominated for the position and that the current U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey Berman, was “stepping down.”
Berman—whose office ran the probe that sent President Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to prison and is investigating his current personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani—subsequently said he had not resigned and would not step down until the Senate confirmed a successor.
Though Democrats are in the minority in the Senate, Schumer appears to have leverage to block Clayton if he is formally nominated.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he would wait to receive blue slips—a sheet of paper that indicates if a senator supports a nominee—before proceeding with Clayton’s nomination. That could allow Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to try to block Clayton from being confirmed by not returning their blue slips if his nomination goes forward.
Graham, in a statement, said he had not been contacted by the administration about its intention to nominate Clayton, who he described as a “fine man and accomplished lawyer.”
“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.
The decision to try to oust Berman has sparked fresh backlash from Democrats, arguing it is the latest example of Trump is trying to politicize the Justice Department.
Schumer, in his statement, called for an investigation into the decision to try to remove Berman.
“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,” Schumer said.
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