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Thanks to Senate Judiciary Committee chair Lindsey Graham, what began Friday as an insubordinate U.S. attorney refusing to step down from his post until his replacement is confirmed has since morphed into what some are now calling another full-fledged coup.
Late Friday, Attorney General Bill Barr released a statement announcing that U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman would be stepping down from his post and replaced.
“I am pleased to announce that President Trump intends to nominate Jay Clayton, currently the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to serve as the next United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York,” he said.
“On my recommendation, the President has appointed Craig Carpenito, currently the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, to serve as the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, while the Senate is considering Jay Clayton’s nomination. This appointment will be effective July 3.”
Attorney General William P. Barr on the Nomination of Jay Clayton to Serve as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York https://t.co/lziVbkLxGP
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) June 20, 2020
But about two hours later, Berman put out a statement to Twitter announcing that he had no intention of stepping down until Clayton is confirmed.
While certainly unexpected, it wasn’t technically much of a big deal, given as Clayton’s confirmation hearings were expected to occur sometime fairly soon.
However, that changed early Saturday afternoon when Graham issued a statement announcing that he won’t move forward with Clayton’s confirmation until he receives permission from the Democrat senators representing Berman’s home state of New York.
“According to Attorney General Barr, the Trump Administration intends to nominate Mr. Jay Clayton to be U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York,” he said. “I have not been contacted by the administration in this regard. However, I know Mr. Clayton and believe him to be 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. As chairman, I have honored that policy and will continue to do so.”
Bloomberg notes that “[b]lue slips are a matter of tradition, not part of the Judiciary Committee’s rules.”
Regardless, what Graham basically said was that he won’t move forward until far-left Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand lend their approval to Clayton’s confirmation.
Significant: Without saying it explicitly, this is Graham telling Trump he’s not going to be able to replace Berman at SDNY, at least not yet.
Unless Schumer and Gillibrand agree to the nomination, it’s not moving. pic.twitter.com/V1nQ1KH45Y
— Tal Kopan (@TalKopan) June 20, 2020
By establishing this stipulation, Graham has effectively nixed any chance the president had of having Clayton permanently replace Berman, because Schumer, the minority leader of the Senate, has made it clear he’ll never approve the nomination.
At 10:56 am EST Saturday morning, roughly 20 minutes before Graham’s announcement broke, Schumer released his own statement demanding that Clayton outright withdraw himself from the nomination, and calling for the Department of Justice Inspector General to launch an investigation.
“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,” he said.
“Furthermore, 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.”
Jay Clayton can allow himself to be used in the brazen Trump-Barr scheme to interfere in investigations by the U.S. Attorney for SDNY, or he can stand up to this corruption, withdraw his name from consideration, and save his own reputation from overnight ruin. pic.twitter.com/6h5D9jOaj7
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) June 20, 2020
That’s pretty much that, meaning Berman is here to stay, regardless of the demands of President Donald Trump and AG Barr.
Graham’s latest perceived blunder comes only weeks after he finally, after at least a year of stalling, began holding hearings on the Russian collusion delusion hoax and conspiracy theory.
However, the senator still refuses to call former President Barack Hussein Obama — as well as other linked parties — to Congress to testify, despite demands from Trump.
If I were a Senator or Congressman, the first person I would call to testify about the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR, is former President Obama. He knew EVERYTHING. Do it @LindseyGrahamSC, just do it. No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more talk!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2020
The congressman has certainly ditched the Mr. Nice Guy act, or at least when it comes to dealing with the president. Not so much so when it comes to dealing with Democrats.
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