sunny.png
Saturday July 11th, 2020 8:14PM

Pick for top NY prosecutor won't withdraw from Trump matters

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s pick to be the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan won't say whether he would withdraw from overseeing matters related to Trump in his current job, as Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, or if confirmed as U.S. attorney.

Jay Clayton repeatedly told Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday that his nomination to head the Southern District of New York was “entirely my idea.” He said Trump and Attorney General William Barr were “made aware” of his interest in the job during the weekend of June 12, a week before the Justice Department abruptly announced that the current U.S. attorney at that office, Geoffrey Berman, would be stepping down.

Berman, who has investigated some of Trump’s associates, refused to leave until Trump fired him.

Under questioning from Democrats, Clayton pledged to be independent as U.S. attorney but would not commit to stepping aside from matters related to Trump or his associates. Clayton would not say whether he had talked to anyone at Trump’s organization or in his family about the nomination. He declined to discuss how many times he’s played golf with the president or whether they discussed SEC business while playing.

“This is not a confirmation hearing, I am here as the chair of the SEC,” he told Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas. Under her questioning, Clayton declined to say whether he had approached Trump and Barr about the job or whether they had approached him.

The scrutiny of the nomination — and Berman’s firing — comes as the House investigates Barr and whether his department has become overtly politicized under Trump.

New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who leads the House Oversight and Reform Committee, asked Clayton several times if he would recuse himself from matters related to Trump if he were confirmed as U.S. attorney. He would only say he was committed to independence.

“Mr. Berman’s firing was very suspicious and raises a lot of questions about whether the president is interfering in ongoing investigations,” Maloney said.

Similarly, Clayton declined to commit to recusing himself from current SEC matters related to Trump, which came during a back-and-forth with California Rep. Maxine Waters, who heads the House Financial Services Committee.

Clayton said the conversations about the job arose as he was eager to leave Washington. He declined to say whether he was aware that Berman didn’t want to leave his job.

“I need to go back to New York,” Clayton told Maloney. “This is something I have been talking about for a while, consulting with people as to whether this would make sense for me to continue in public service.” He would not say with whom he had discussed it before June.

Clayton faces an uphill path to confirmation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a Trump ally, said he won't proceed unless New York’s senators give their consent. But those Democrats have already rejected the nomination and say Clayton should withdraw.

The controversy over Berman’s ouster has added to some Democrats’ calls to start impeachment proceedings against Barr, a process that would face certain failure in the Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday called Barr “a mess” but appeared to tamp down those calls.

“He’s contemptible, there’s no doubt about that. But at this point, let’s solve our problems by going to the polls and voting on Election Day,” Pelosi said.

One of high-profile investigations Berman was overseeing concerned the business dealings of Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, including whether Giuliani failed to register as a foreign agent.

Berman's office has also prosecuted a number of Trump associates, including Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who served a prison sentence for lying to Congress and campaign finance crimes. Cohen was recently released from a federal prison to continue serving his sentence on home confinement over coronavirus concerns.

___

Associated Press writer Laurie Kellman contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
US virus cases near an all-time high as governors backtrack
The coronavirus crisis is deepening rapidly in Arizona, and the governor of Texas is beginning to backtrack after making one of the most aggressive pushes in the nation to reopen his state
4:31PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Watchdogs: Trump's Independence Day gala in 2019 cost $13M
Government watchdogs say President Donald Trump’s Fourth of July gala in the nation’s capital last year cost taxpayers more than $13 million, twice as much as previous celebrations
4:30PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Pick for top NY prosecutor won't withdraw from Trump matters
President Donald Trump’s pick to be the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan is coming under heavy scrutiny from Congress
4:24PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
US health officials estimate 20M Americans have had virus
U.S. officials estimate that 20 million Americans have been infected with the coronavirus since it first arrived in the United States, with millions never knowing they had it
3:54PM ( 42 minutes ago )
NYC judge punts Trump family effort to halt tell-all book
A New York City judge has dismissed a claim by Donald Trump’s brother that sought to halt the publication of a tell-all book by the president’s niece
3:51PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Biden, Trump stage rare dueling events in pandemic era
Both President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden are swinging through key battleground states on Thursday
2:50PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Where's Markey? Senator misses dozens of votes in pandemic
Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Edward Markey has missed dozens of votes in the past two months as the coronavirus pandemic raged in Massachusetts
12:17PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: Texas Gov. Abbott again halts elective surgeries
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott again halted elective surgeries in the state's biggest counties in a bid to free up hospital beds after the number of patients admitted with COVID-19 has more than doubled in two weeks
12:16PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: Court rules gyms will remain closed in Michigan
A federal appeals court ruled gyms and fitness centers will remain closed under Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's shut down order from months ago
11:40AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
US virus cases near an all-time high as governors backtrack
The coronavirus crisis is deepening rapidly in Arizona, and the governor of Texas is beginning to backtrack after making one of the most aggressive pushes in the nation to reopen his state
4:31PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Watchdogs: Trump's Independence Day gala in 2019 cost $13M
Government watchdogs say President Donald Trump’s Fourth of July gala in the nation’s capital last year cost taxpayers more than $13 million, twice as much as previous celebrations
4:30PM ( 6 minutes ago )
House Democrats to approve police overhaul as Senate stalls
Democrats in the House are set to vote Thursday on a far-reaching policing overhaul
4:14PM ( 21 minutes ago )
The Dixie Chicks officially change their name to The Chicks
Grammy-winning country group The Dixie Chicks have dropped the word Dixie from their name, now going by The Chicks
4:09PM ( 27 minutes ago )
AP-NORC poll: Support for restrictions, virus worries wane
After months of steady progress, new confirmed cases of COVID-19 climbed to near record levels in the U.S. this week
4:08PM ( 27 minutes ago )