About three months after President Donald Trump abruptly fired about half of the nation’s U.S. attorneys, the White House has formally announced replacements for some of the vacancies he created.
Trump has settled on individuals to take eight of the 93 chief federal prosecutor slots, the White House said in a statement Monday evening detailing his "first wave" of U.S. attorney nominees.
Under a Senate procedure known as the "blue slip," home-state senators usually have an effective veto over U.S. attorney nominees and judges. As a result, the White House does not typically nominate individuals for those posts without the advance buy-in of the relevant senators.
Given the current partisan divide and particular anger in the Democratic camp towards Trump, this has complicated the judge and U.S. attorney selections. That difficulty was on display in the first set of U.S. attorney nominees: six were for red states represented solely by GOP senators, while a seventh was for the District of Columbia — a jurisdiction not covered by the blue-slip process.
Only one nominee — Trump’s pick to head the federal prosecutor’s office in the Northern District of Ohio — required the approval of a Democratic senator. However, Justin Herdman got an enthusiastic endorsement from both Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).
“Justin Herdman is an experienced prosecutor and public servant who has what it takes to serve Ohio’s Northern District,” Brown said in a statement. “He brings a broad range of experience to the table, which will help him tackle the important issues in northern Ohio like overseeing the consent decree in Cleveland and working to tackle our state’s opioid epidemic. I’m pleased to join Senator Portman in supporting his nomination.”
Brown and Portman had recommended Herdman for the post about two weeks after Trump took office.
Herdman worked as a prosecutor in the Cleveland-based U.S. attorney’s office from 2006 to 2013. He’s currently a partner at Jones Day, the law firm that was home to Trump’s White House counsel, Don McGahn, and has populated many of the top legal posts in the administration.
The other picks are D. Michael Dunavant for the Western District of Tennessee, Jay Town for the Northern District of Alabama, Louis Franklin for the Middle District of Alabama, Richard Moore for the Southern District of Alabama, John Huber of Utah, Brian Kuester of Oklahoma and Jessie Liu for the District of Columbia.
The announcement Monday indicated Trump’s intention to nominate the named individuals, but the formal nominations often take weeks or months to actually be sent to the Senate.
One more Trump judicial nominee was sent to the Senate Monday: Claria Boom for a joint appointment to the U.S. District Courts for Eastern and Western Kentucky.