The Trump administration is at work with more than a dozen senators to come up with replacements for vacant U.S. attorney jobs, officials at the White House and Capitol Hill told Politico.
Don McGahn, White House chief counsel, has met with senators and their staff members for the past three weeks, and expects to begin announcing appointments in the next three weeks, according to Politico.
The positions have been vacant since U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked for the resignations of every U.S. attorney that had been appointed by President Barack Obama that had not already left. Since then, acting U.S. attorneys have filled those roles.
"That was an unfortunate decision that could have been more discerning and made… with a scalpel instead of a meat axe, especially because they didn't have nominees in the pipeline," said Ronald Weich, who was Obama's top legislative liaison in the Justice Department.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation must still vet all the appointees, and the Senate must schedule hearings for them all, so the process could take time.
"The problem is the convergence of judicial vacancies and all executive branch vacancies, so there's only so much the FBI can do every week… it's just frustrating but it's hard to get things done through the process," a lawyer told Politico.
Senators could still halt the process, as they could block a nominee with a so-called "blue slip," by failing to return it. Recent leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee have not held hearings until the blue slip is returned, so advance consent of home-state senators is usually a priority.
"Appointing a U.S. attorney without the blue slips is considered a no-go zone. You better get both blue slips when it comes to U.S. attorneys," Victoria Bassetti, a former Judiciary Committee staff member, told Politico.
U.S. attorney positions in Manhattan and Brooklyn have the highest priority for Trump, according to the report.
There are 93 unfilled U.S. attorney positions, according to The Washington Post.
"It's like trying to win a baseball game without your first-string players on the field," Weich told The Post.
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