SEC Chairman Jay Clayton appeared at a hearing Thursday titled "Capital Markets and Emergency Lending in the COVID-19 ERA." As head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, he had expected to field economic questions. But all that changed when Trump and Bill Barr decided to install him as the top prosecutor for Manhattan, having fired Geoffrey Berman late last Friday night. As Trump's expected nominee for the position Clayton had to field this question, whether he can truly be an autonomous federal prosecutor while being one of Trump's golfing buddies. The Southern District of New York has multiple ongoing investigations into Trump associates and other interests linked to the president.
In the days since his planned nomination was announced, Clayton has come under scrutiny over golf outings with Trump. The New York Times reported that Clayton and Trump played golf together over the weekend before controversy erupted over the handoff of power in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan.
On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Katie Porter, D-California, asked Clayton whether he believes “independence from the president is possible if you and the president are golfing buddies.”
“I absolutely do, because I do it—I do my job every day without fear or favor. And we do justice at the SEC, and I think if you look at the record of the SEC, it’s absolutely clear,” Clayton replied.
Pressed about how frequently he’s golfed with Trump, Clayton said he has joined the president a “handful” of times and consulted SEC ethics counsel about the outings.
Meet Jay Clayton. He chairs a federal agency to keep Wall Street in check. He's also the nominee to replace a U.S. Attorney who was fired for investigating the President.
I asked him how he can be independent, in his current or future roles, when he's the President's golf buddy. pic.twitter.com/NvOP2cXvlH
— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) June 25, 2020