Judicial nominee draws scrutiny over disclosures of past speeches

Judicial nominee draws scrutiny over disclosures of past speeches
© Greg Nash

One of President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden, Sanders lead field in Iowa poll The Memo: Cohen fans flames around Trump Memo Comey used to brief Trump on dossier released: report MORE’s judicial picks is drawing scrutiny for what a top Democrat says is a failure to be completely forthcoming with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate Dems urge Trump to continue nuclear arms control negotiations after treaty suspension Senate Intel leaders ask judge not to jail former aide amid leak investigation Dems demand Pompeo brief Congress on whether he discussed Assange with Ecuadorian official MORE (Calif.), the committee's top Democrat, said in a statement Tuesday that a review of Louisiana Eastern District Court nominee Wendy Vitter’s written questionnaire showed she failed to disclose a political ad as well as several public speeches, including to anti-abortion groups.

Feinstein’s statement follows a Vice News report last week that revealed Vitter failed to disclose multiple items to the Judiciary Committee, including that she moderated a panel on the alleged dangers of abortion.

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Feinstein said she’s concerned that failures to disclose relevant information and materials to the committee are becoming a pattern under the Trump administration.

The administration was forced to withdraw Brett Talley’s nomination to be a federal judge in Alabama after it was revealed that he failed to disclose online posts, including one in which he defended the Ku Klux Klan. He also failed to tell the committee he is married to a White House lawyer.

Feinstein said Gordon Giampietro, a nominee to be a district court judge in Wisconsin, never disclosed an online post in which he described the Civil Rights Act as an “intrusion into private business” and said diversity is code for “relaxed standards.”

“These are lifetime appointments,” she said. “The committee can’t do its job and review nominees’ records if the administration hides information, and both parties should be furious at this routine practice under President Trump.”

Feinstein said the committee has requested an updated questionnaire from Vitter but has not yet received one from the administration.

An administration official defended Vitter, saying she has made no attempt to hide anything from the committee, “least of all her personal pro-life views.” 

“For example, she already disclosed to the Senate that she received the New Orleans Right to Life Educational Foundation’s 'Proudly Pro-Life Award' in 2017,” the official said.

“She has already submitted more than 180 speeches and writings to the Committee, and she will be submitting a supplement to her questionnaire after careful review to locate any additional items that may have been inadvertently missed.”

The administration official said it’s not uncommon for judicial nominees to update or supplement the materials they submit to the Senate. 

“Wendy Vitter is an eminently qualified nominee for the federal courts and will be an excellent judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana,” the official said.

The Judiciary Committee has not yet held a hearing on Vitter's nomination.

Updated: 5:04 p.m.