Senate panel delays Trump’s judicial picks amid Mueller standoff

The Senate Judiciary Committee is postponing votes on nearly two dozen judiciary nominees for the second time in as many weeks.  

The decision to punt the business meeting again comes as Republicans are locked in a stalemate with Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeJeff Flake becoming Harvard fellow Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment MORE (R-Ariz.) over legislation protecting special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump Schiff says Intel panel will hold 'series' of hearings on Mueller report MORE.

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Flake is voting against all judicial nominees until he gets a vote on the bill, which would let Mueller, or any special counsel, challenge the firing and be reinstated if a court determined it wasn’t for “good cause.”

With Republicans holding an 11-10 majority on the Judiciary Committee, Flake’s "no" vote effectively blocks the party from sending judicial nominees to the full Senate unless they can win over help from Democrats.

Flake indicated on Wednesday that he had not yet reached a deal with GOP leadership. 

“We can have the markup, I’ll just vote 'no,'” he quipped.

The notification from the Judiciary Committee didn't specify when, or if, the committee votes on the nominations would be rescheduled. Six circuit court nominees had been expected to get a vote, as well as 15 district court nominees.

The nominations were expected to get a vote last week, but committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley raises concerns about objectivity of report critical of GOP tax law's effects Overnight Health Care: Key Trump drug pricing proposal takes step forward | Missouri Planned Parenthood clinic loses bid for license | 2020 Democrats to take part in Saturday forum on abortion rights Key Trump proposal to lower drug prices takes step forward MORE (R-Iowa) canceled the meeting after indicating that his staff was trying to work out a deal with Flake.

“If we don't get a positive out of it, we'll probably cancel the meeting,” Grassley said last week shortly before he canceled the meeting. 

Updated at 4:05 p.m.