Trump's U.S. attorney nominee in Grand Rapids is blocked

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — President Donald Trump's nominee to serve as the top federal prosecutor in Grand Rapids has been held up by Michigan's two Democratic senators.

The Detroit News reported Monday that former state House Speaker Tom Leonard's nomination, announced in August, was blocked by Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, who both declined to meet with him. Trump, who took more than two-and-a-half years to nominate the Republican, will decide whether to renominate him in 2020.

The Senate gives lawmakers a chance to weigh in on a nominee from their home state by submitting a blue-colored form called the "blue slip." Typically, a nominee is not confirmed without two positive blue slips - but the Republican-controlled Senate has ignored the tradition and approved some of Trump's appellate court nominees.

Leonard was nominated as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan, which covers 49 counties in the Lower and Upper peninsulas.

Leonard said in a statement that he is "disappointed" Stabenow and Peters chose to "block" his nomination.

"While I understand that the politics of Washington may force them to vote against my confirmation, I never anticipated they would personally prevent over three million citizens from West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula from having a voice to fight crime," he said.

Stabenow said she is unable to support Leonard “given our deep policy differences.” Peters' office said the Trump administration did not consult his office on possible candidates to fill the vacancy.

“Our office worked with the Administration to find nominees for other Michigan vacancies and affirmatively support them through the nomination process, including now-District Court Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis. No new information has emerged that alleviates Senator Peters’ serious concerns with Tom Leonard’s nomination or the process used for his nomination,” his office said in a statement to The Associated Press.

Leonard has received 19 letters of support for his nomination, including ones from Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, a Democrat, and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, another Democrat, according to the News.