Bill Barr announced last night that Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the SDNY, had resigned. Berman then announced that he had not resigned, and would not allow himself to be fired. Berman stated that he’ll stay on the job, and continue working on the criminal cases that Trump and Barr are trying to derail, until the Senate confirms an SDNY replacement.
As this was playing out last night, former Senator Claire McCaskill pointed out that if this matter goes to a vote in the Senate, and Republican Senators are forced to swallow Trump’s new nominee, it could end up flipping the Senate in November. After all, this is a huge scandal that could harm everyone who touches it. So the question was whether the GOP Senate would indeed be willing to touch it. This morning Lindsey Graham of all people decided to blink.
Graham is in charge of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where the nomination process begins. This morning he announced that he will adhere to the tradition of allowing a Senator from the nominee’s home state to strike down the nomination. But the two Senators from New York are Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats. Schumer is already publicly calling for the new nominee to withdraw.
If Lindsey Graham sticks to what he just said, it’ll mean he’s allowing Senate Democrats to kill off Donald Trump’s SDNY nominee, thus dragging out the process and allowing Geoffrey Berman to remain on the job indefinitely. Our guess is that McConnell and Graham don’t want the nominee to come to a vote, because they don’t want it to be used against them in their reelection bids, and they’ve set it up so they can tell Trump that they had no choice because the Democrats killed the nomination.
Graham could still change his mind and move forward with the nomination, even without the consent of the two New York Senators. But at this point Graham would have a difficult time pulling that off, because he just weakened his position by publicly committing himself to adhering to the tradition. Graham’s statement is a big win for Berman, and a blow to Trump – whether Trump realizes it or not. Graham must be legitimately worried about his own reelection battle against increasingly popular Democrat Jaime Harrison.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report