Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is ready to derail President Trump’s likely nominee for the United States attorney in Manhattan.
The New York Democrat will reportedly try to block confirmation of Geoffrey S. Berman if he is nominated by Trump to the U.S. attorney post in the Southern District of New York, the New York Times reported.
A vocal critic of Trump, Gillibrand ignited a feud with the president in December after she demanded he resign over unproven allegations of sexual misconduct. Trump slammed the “lightweight” senator as a “total flunky” for Senate minority leader, New York Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer.
Gillibrand plans to use her “blue-slip prerogative” in order to oppose the nomination, objecting over the president’s personal interview of Berman for the post, the senator’s spokesman told the Times. Home state senators in New York have to sign off on nominees on blue slips of paper.
Claims of conflicts of interest in Berman’s “potential jurisdiction on matters that could affect the president personally,” disturbed Gillibrand, according to her spokesman, Glen Caplin.
“Under these circumstances,” Caplin said, “the senator would have no choice but to stand up for the independence of this office by using her blue-slip prerogative.”
The senator’s criticism was directed at Trump “for conducting such an interview,” and not the potential nominee.
The 58-year-old former prosecutor was appointed as the interim United States attorney for the Southern District of New York by Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week, an area that is home to some of Trump’s businesses.
Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office told the Times on Wednesday that the Iowa Republican would honor Gillibrand’s blue-slip although he had previously stated he would be doing away with the policy for two of Trump’s judicial picks.
“It is difficult to envision a scenario in which the chairman would disregard an unreturned or negative blue slip on a U.S. attorney nominee,” a spokesman for the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said on Wednesday. “We have not received from the president any nomination for U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. The chairman does not make public pronouncements about hypothetical nominees.”
Serving as a federal prosecutor in Manhattan from 1990 to 1994, Berman is currently a law partner of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Trump tapped Berman as southern New York’s top prosecutor to replace Preet Bharara, an Obama-era attorney whom the president fired last year when he refused to resign.
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