WH withdrawing two controversial judicial nominees

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The White House on Wednesday backed away from two controversial judicial nominees opposed by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the powerful chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A White House spokesperson told The Hill on Wednesday that Brett Talley, now a Justice Department attorney, had offered to withdraw and that his nomination “will not be moving forward.” Trump had nominated him to a lifetime federal judgeship in Alabama.

Later in the day, the White House also said it would not submit paperwork to the Senate for Jeff Mateer, whom Trump had nominated to serve on a district court in Texas.

Grassley on Tuesday had urged Trump to “reconsider” both nominees, even though his panel had advanced Talley’s nomination last month on a party-line vote.

“I would advise the White House not to proceed,” Grassley said.

The nominations of Talley and Mateer attracted intense criticism.

Talley, 36, has practiced law for less than three years and has never tried a case in court. The American Bar Association deemed him “not qualified,” the fourth time it has given that rating to one of Trump’s judicial picks.

Talley, who Trump nominated in September, was under scrutiny for other actions and past comments. He did not disclose on his Senate questionnaire that he is married to a White House lawyer.

He also reportedly made controversial comments online about inmates on death row, writing, “Just shoot them. That’s effective.”

Talley previously worked as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s legal office and as a deputy solicitor general for the state of Alabama. He was also part of the Tuscaloosa Paranormal Research Group and has written extensively about paranormal activities and other topics in the horror genre.

Mateer, meanwhile, had been under scrutiny for his anti-LGBT views. 

In a series of speeches made in 2015, Mateer compared homosexuality to bestiality, advocated for gay conversion therapy and described transgender children as a part of “Satan’s plan.”

Also in 2015, Mateer slammed the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage, calling it “disgusting.” 

“What is the limiting? Why couldn’t four people want to get married?” he said. “Why not one man and three women? Or three women and one man? … I mean, it’s disgusting.”

– Lydia Wheeler contributed to this story which was updated at 4:35 p.m.

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