Chuck Schumer opposes Jay Clayton for next Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney

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Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, New York Democrat, said 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.

A blue slip is a form Senators use to express support for a federal nominee from their home state. It carries some weight with the committee reviewing the nomination, but is not an official part of the Senate rules.

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

Mr. Schumer’s opposition to Mr. Clayton could represent a significant hurdle as President Trump seeks to get him confirmed as the next U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The Senate is controlled by Republicans, who would likely support the president’s nominee. But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham — whose panel has jurisdiction over Mr. Clayton’s confirmation — said Saturday he would honor the committee’s tradition of waiting to receive blue slips from home-state senators.

Mr. Clayton is from New York, meaning both Mr. Schumer and Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, also a Democrat, could halt the nomination process by withholding the blue slips.

“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.

Ms. Gillibrand has also said she will oppose Mr. Clayton’s nomination.

“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,” she said in a statement. “Jay Clayton should withdraw his name from consideration immediately and remove himself from this sham,” she said in a statement.

In an embarrassing turn of events over the weekend, Attorney General William P. Barr sought to oust Geoffrey Berman as the U.S. Attorney for Manhattan. Mr. Barr announced late Friday that Mr. Berman would be “stepping down.”

But Mr. Berman fired back that he wasn’t leaving his post, creating chaos at the Justice Department. The stand-off ultimately ended on Saturday when the president fired Mr. Berman.

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

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

This is not the first time Senators have threatened to withhold a blue slip for a U.S. Attorney nominee.

Ms. Gillibrand withheld her blue slip for Mr. Berman when he was nominated as New York City’s top federal prosecutor in 2018. That blocked his confirmation by the Senate and he was ultimately appointed to his position by the federal district court until a nominee could be confirmed.

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