Minnesota machinations

Over the past several months I’ve reported the machinations involving President Trump’s nomination of Minnesota Justice David Stras to the Eighth Circuit. The nomination dates back to early May. The nomination remains in limbo. President Trump has yet to nominate candidates for four other vacancies including United States Marshal, United States Attorney and two federal district court judgeships. All these pieces are in play. The principal players dealing with the White House are Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and Minnesota Third District Rep. Erik Paulsen, each of whom has promoted candidates for the vacancies.

Klobuchar has negotiated with the White House over the vacancies in connection with the Stras nomination. The White House has sought to work out a deal with her. She has failed to respond to any of my inquiries on the subject and I’ve quit asking. On August 4, for example, I reported that Klobuchar was promoting Minneapolis attorney Joe Dixon for the position of United States Attorney. Neither Klobuchar nor Dixon responded to my inquiries in that case.

I thought that the Star Tribune would pick up the thread somewhere along the line, although I didn’t think it would take quite this long. It’s a significant story of local interest and beyond. In today’s Star Tribune Stephen Montemayor turns to it in the article “With spotlight on Stras’ Eighth Circuit nomination, new uncertainty for other Minnesota vacancies.”

Montemayor alludes to Klobuchar’s negotiations with the White House. These negotiations have been ongoing for a while although I don’t think they have previously seen the light of day in the Star Tribune. After I wrote about Klobuchar’s promotion of Dixon, I received a message from the White House Counsel’s office asking me to quit writing about Klobuchar while they tried to work out a deal with her; I was annoying her.

Montemayor discusses the various candidates for United States Attorney including Dixon. He also reports: “Sources have said the White House at one point floated the possibility of nominating a candidate recommended by Klobuchar and Franken in exchange for their blessing for a Senate hearing for Stras, who has been described as a priority for the administration.”

Klobuchar has her own suggestions for the district court vacancies. The context of the sentence above suggests that the reference is to these district court vacancies. I believe that Klobuchar has candidates she has been pushing for all the vacant Minnesota positions.

Earlier this week I reported that Klobuchar had returned her blue slip on Justice Stras. Montemayor adds a bit with the help of a comment from Klobuchar: “After Franken announced he would not return his blue slip, thus stalling Stras’ nomination, Klobuchar said in a statement that she would have supported a Senate hearing for Stras, and sources said she indeed returned a blue slip for his nomination. But she also said that the White House ‘will need to provide additional names for the 8th Circuit position.’”

What does this mean? It implies that the Stras nomination will not proceed based on his refusal to return his blue slip on Stras. Klobuchar’s comment calls for further interpretation and commentary that are conspicuously lacking in the article. I gave mine in “Klobuchar shows her blue slip.” At this point I can only observe that this complicated story requires continuing attention and development.


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