President Trump has nominated Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras to a vacancy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. His nomination is supported by just about everyone in Minnesota, yet his confirmation is stalled by the failure of Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken to return their blue slips on Justice Stras. It’s not that they oppose Stras — as I say, nobody does — it’s just that they want to use their blue slips to work out a deal under which they will allow the Senate to confirm Stras in exchange for their selection of the United States Attorney for Minnesota.
Klobuchar had previously supported the reappointment of Andrew Luger as United States Attorney. I understand that Luger has gone to work in the Minneapolis office of Jones Day and removed himself from consideration.
I am advised that Klobuchar and Franken recently arranged for a meeting that included staff and a local advisory group of six members to interview five or six candidates for the position of United States Attorney for Minnesota. The Star Tribune previously reported on the process undertaken by Klobuchar and Franken last month here.
Having been recommended by all of Minnesota’s GOP Congressmen and RNC members, Minneapolis attorney Kevin Magnuson was among the five or six candidates considered by the Klobuchar Krew. In a rightly ordered world, Magnuson would be the Trump administration’s nominee for the position. See the Star Tribune article linked above.
I am advised by sources I believe to be reliable, however, that Klobuchar is focused on Minneapolis attorney Joseph Dixon, III for United States Attorney. I am further advised that Klobuchar is seeking local Republicans to express support for the appointment of Dixon.
Dixon is a shareholder in Minneapolis’s Fredrikson & Byron firm and his firm bio is posted here. (I am coincidentally a client of the firm.) Dixon’s professional background includes work in the Office of the United States Attorney for Minnesota.
Dixon is a longtime Democratic campaign contributor. He has given thousands to Klobuchar, Franken, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other Democrats. He is obviously a partisan Democrat.
Dixon represents Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law curtailing the power of the auditor’s office. A partisan Democrat, Otto is currently running for governor. See the Minnpost account of Otto’s lawsuit posted online here.
The position of United States Attorney is a plum appointment that is important in its own right. The United States Attorney is the chief federal law enforcement officer in the state; he must be relied on to implement the prosecutorial priorities of the administration he serves. The thought that the Trump administration may have to trade the unblocking of Justice Stras’s nomination for the appointment of a partisan Democratic United States Attorney selected by Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken is disappointing, if not disgusting.
NOTE: I requested comment from Senator Klobuchar (via her spokesman) and from Joe Dixon on short notice this evening. If I hear from either I will update this post or report their comments in a separate post.