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 FlakeArpaio considering running for former sheriff job after Trump pardon Overnight Energy: Warren edges past Sanders in poll of climate-focused voters | Carbon tax shows new signs of life | Greens fuming at Trump plans for development at Bears Ears monument Carbon tax shows new signs of life in Congress MORE (R-Ariz.) over legislation protecting special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: 'I'd like to know' if Mueller read his own report MORE.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 GrassleyGOP senators call for Barr to release full results of Epstein investigation Trump health official: Controversial drug pricing move is 'top priority' Environmental advocates should take another look at biofuels 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.