White House defends judicial selections after nominee withdraws

Getty Images

The White House on Tuesday defended its judicial selection process after one of its nominees withdrew his name for consideration following an embarrassing hearing that exposed a lack of experience.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders argued that a strong majority of the president’s nominees have completed the confirmation process, resulting in 12 circuit court confirmations and a new Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch.

“Look, the president’s judicial selection process has led to a historic pace of confirmations, including 12 circuit court justices and a Supreme Court Justice,” Sanders said. “Every administration has individuals that don’t go through all of the process. We have had 60 nominees and only three that didn’t go through the process. That individual has withdrawn and we’ll make sure we fill that spot with a strong and qualified candidate.”

Trump had tapped Matthew Petersen, a Federal Elections Commission member, to be a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. 

But Petersen withdrew on Monday after a video of him being grilled by Republican Sen. John Kennedy (La.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, went viral.

In it, Petersen admitted to never having tried a case and said he was unfamiliar with basic legal procedures.{mosads}

“Just because you’ve seen ‘My Cousin Vinny’ doesn’t qualify you to be a federal judge,” said Kennedy, referring to the 1992 comedy starring Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei.

Still, Republicans have been thrilled by Trump’s stocking of the judiciary with conservatives and expect it will be one of his lasting legacies.

Sanders on Tuesday was asked why the pace of nominations for judges and agency appointments was slower than for previous presidents. Sanders said Trump would not fill every open position because he believes the government is already too big and blamed Democrats for slow-walking those that the White House intends to fill.

“Look, we have been focused on filling positions as quickly as possible but at the same time the president has said before he doesn’t think every single position in the government needs to be filled,” Sanders said.

“He is going to cut back on some of the positions. We have focused on top priority places and we’re going to continue filling out individuals. But we have also seen a massive slowdown and obstruction by the Democrats. Hopefully, they’ll continue to push our people through, particularly in individuals that were held up, whether it’s in the judiciary or something that falls under the national defense profile.”

Tags Donald Trump John Kennedy Neil Gorsuch Supreme Court of the United States United States United States federal judge

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video