Grassley tells Trump 'not to proceed' on two controversial judicial nominations

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight Grassley: No reason to delay Kavanaugh hearing Dem senators back Kavanaugh accuser's call for FBI investigation MORE (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he’s told President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE to “reconsider” two controversial judicial nominees.

Grassley told CNN that he urged Trump and the White House to rethink the nominations of Jeff Mateer and Brett Talley.

"I've advised the White House they ought to reconsider," Grassley said to CNN. "I would advise the White House not to proceed."

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Mateer, whom Trump nominated to become a federal judge in Texas, has faced criticism for a series of 2015 speeches on religion and homosexuality. In those remarks, he described transgender children as part of “Satan’s plan,” compared homosexuality to bestiality and advocated for gay conversion therapy.

Critics called Mateer's September nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas "a gift to anti-LGBT activists." His nomination has yet to receive committee approval.

Talley, whom Trump nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, has also faced scrutiny for previous remarks. In a 2013 blog post, he urged readers to “join the National Rifle Association" and blasted gun control legislation that followed the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School as “the greatest attack on our constitutional freedoms in our lifetime.”

Last month, the American Bar Association (ABA) deemed Talley unqualified for the position because of his lack of “requisite experience."

Talley’s nomination passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, but has yet to go to the Senate floor for a vote.

Taylor Foy, a spokesman for the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, said Grassley has been concerned about statements made by Mateer and Talley and has conveyed those concerns to the White House.

"Revelations of Talley’s statements surfaced only after he was reported out of the Judiciary Committee," he said in an email to The Hill. "Mateer’s nomination paperwork has not yet been received by the Committee, and no further action is scheduled."

The liberal Alliance for Justice (AFJ), which has been fighting Trump's nominees, called Grassley's request "welcome news."

"Brett Talley and Jeff Mateer are both wholly unfit for the federal bench," Nan Aron, the group's president, said in a statement. "Senator Grassley is right to insist that the White House withdraw their names. Talley has never tried a case or argued a motion, and Mateer has made hostile and offensive remarks about transgender children."

Aron said the White House now has an opportunity to reassess its criteria for judicial nominations.

Republicans have praised Trump’s rapid pace in making nominations to fill federal, district and circuit court vacancies; many of the nominees are approved by the conservative Federalist Society.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last month that Trump’s impact on the judiciary would be felt for “decades and decades.”

--Lydia Wheeler contributed to this report, which was updated at 3:39 p.m.