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Using Congressional privilege, senators 'block' Trump U.S. attorney pick

head shot of Tom Leonard
Tom Leonard for Michigan

Michigan’s two U.S. senators have effectively blocked President Donald Trump’s pick to serve as the U.S. attorney for western Michigan.

Tom Leonard is a former Republican legislator. He lost his bid last year to become state attorney general before he was nominated by Trump. But Leonard says his nomination was stopped by Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters without a meeting or a hearing.

“The three and a half million people that live within the western district of Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, they deserve better than this," Leonard said. "They deserve to have a federal prosecutor in place, and I would hope they would be willing to take a meeting with me so that we could sit down and we could discuss my vision for the office.”

A special Congressional privilege allows senators to block the confirmation of presidential appointments in their states. Stabenow says her differences with Leonard are too profound to support his nomination.

“It’s just very disappointing that I’ve got this broad bipartisan support," Leonard said. "I have this vision for the office, and yet neither senator is willing to take a meeting with me to talk about my vision for the office.”

A Peters spokesman says Trump waited two and a half years to fill the vacancy and never consulted with Michigan’s senators before nominating someone. The nomination has lapsed, but the president can re-submit Leonard’s name.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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