Confirmation process for Trump's San Diego U.S. attorney pick drags on

Almost six months since veteran San Diego litigator Bob Brewer was nominated for U.S. attorney, he has yet to be installed in office.

Chalk it up to partisan politics.

Brewer, 72, who began his career as a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles before moving to San Diego to focus on private practice, was nominated to fill San Diego’s top federal prosecutor post in mid-June by President Donald Trump.

But he still must be confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and then the Senate as a whole.

A week ago, it looked like the first vote might finally happen. Brewer’s name was on a list of 25 nominees — most of them judicial — to be considered by the committee. But the Nov. 29 meeting was cancelled.

It was back on again for Thursday, but this time it has been “postponed” to an unknown future date.

The reason is a showdown between Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who is on the committee, and fellow Republicans. Flake has threatened to vote against Trump’s 22 judicial nominees on the calendar unless the Senate considers a bill that would protect special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Trump’s campaign ties to Russia, from being fired.

Flake’s vote is needed to approve the Republican nominees if the senators vote along party lines, since there are 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats on the committee. Both of California’s senators, ranking member Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, are on the committee.

While the dispute seems to be over the judicial nominees, Brewer and another U.S. attorney nominee, as well as the U.S. Sentencing Commission chair, appear to be caught in the fray for now.

If Brewer hasn’t been confirmed by the end of the year, Trump will have to renominate him.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Attorney’s Office continues to be headed by Adam Braverman, a prosecutor who was temporarily appointed to the role. But with Brewer’s confirmation appearing close, prosecutors in the office are beginning to anticipate what changes a new leader, and relative outsider, might bring.

Since 2015, Brewer, who lives in downtown San Diego, has been with San Diego’s Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek law firm as “of counsel,” serving as an adviser of sorts. His practice focuses on white collar defense and civil litigation.

He is married to retired U.S. District Judge Irma Gonzalez, who now works as a legal mediator and arbitrator.

kristina.davis@sduniontribune.com

Twitter: @kristinadavis

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