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Democrats Drill Down at Hearing on When and How Clayton Got the Nod from President Trump for Federal Prosecutor Role

Courtesy of Pam Martens

SEC Chairman, Jay Clayton

SEC Chairman, Jay Clayton

The Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship, and Capital Markets Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee convened a hearing today on capital markets with the Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Jay Clayton. The hearing had been scheduled prior to last Friday evening’s abrupt and controversial sacking of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, by Attorney General William Barr and President Donald Trump. A statement released by Barr on Friday night stated that the President would be nominating Clayton to fill the post. Clayton has no prior experience as a prosecutor and would be taking over one of the most important federal prosecutor’s offices in the country.

That office currently has ongoing investigations of Deutsche Bank, the President’s longstanding business lender; the President’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and his associates; and potentially Wall Street cases being defended by Clayton’s former employer of two decades, the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell. (See U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman’s Ouster: The Untold Story.)

As Democrats attempted at today’s hearing to get details on how this chain of events came to occur, Bill Huizenga, the Republican ranking member of the Subcommittee, and other Republicans, attempted to halt this line of questioning of Clayton. As a result, it took three hours of interrupted questions from multiple Democrats to get Clayton’s final version of the facts.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of New York asked Clayton when the issue of him getting the job as U.S. Attorney was first raised with President Trump and the Attorney General. Clayton first said “last weekend.” That obviously could not be accurate because the announcement from Barr came on Friday night, June 19, ahead of the weekend. Maloney then asked Clayton if he had known at the time that Berman would be fired to make room for him. Clayton said: “I’m not going to get into that here.”

Congresswoman Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania was able to clear up the confusion about when Clayton had actually talked to the President and Barr about the job. Clayton corrected himself that the conversation had actually occurred “the weekend of the 12th.” (Perhaps Clayton has been taking 3-day weekends because the 12th was actually a Friday.)



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