Top Republican senator presses Trump to 'reconsider' 2 of the most controversial people he's nominated to the federal bench

Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesDonald Trump.
  • Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley is calling on President Donald Trump to pump the brakes on two of his most controversial judicial nominees.
  • It’s the strongest stance Grassley, an Iowa Republican, has taken against a Trump judicial nominee.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley on Tuesday called on President Donald Trump to rethink two of his most controversial picks to sit on the federal bench.

Speaking to CNN, Grassley said he is advising the White House to “reconsider” its nominations of Brett Talley and Jeff Mateer to federal district judgeships in Alabama and Texas, respectively.

“I’ve advised the White House they ought to reconsider,” Grassley said. “I would advise the White House not to proceed.”

Grassley’s comments mark the first time a leading Republican has called on Trump to reverse his thinking on any major judicial nominations.

“This is first sign from Grassley that some nominees are either unqualified or too controversial to force [through] the Senate,” Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor and expert on judicial nominations, told Business Insider in an email.

So far in his young presidency, Trump has sought to quickly reshape the federal bench.

His rapid pace of nominations and confirmations have outpaced predecessors, and, in September, he hit 65 combined nominations between appeals courts, district courts, the US Tax Court, and the US Court of Federal Claims. Republicans have moved quickly alongside him, working to move nominees briskly through the Judiciary Committee and Senate confirmation. This week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scheduled votes for multiple circuit court nominees after last month confirming a series of Trump’s high court selections.

“We will set records in terms of the number of judges,” Trump said at a joint press conference with McConnell earlier this year, adding, “There has never been anything like what we’ve been able to do together with judges.”

Talley, a 36-year-old rated as “not qualified” by the American Bar Association, came under fire for failing to disclose that he is married to a top White House lawyer when asked to list conflicts of interest. The lawyer had also written comments such as “Hillary Rotten Clinton” from his now-private Twitter account, The New York Times reported.

A Harvard Law School graduate who serves as a deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, Talley has come under intense criticism from Democrats for never having tried a case, which is one of the main reasons the ABA unanimously rated him “not qualified.”

Mateer, who CNN reported said in 2015 that transgender children are a part of “Satan’s plan,” still needs approval by the Judiciary Committee.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas took issue with Mateer not having disclosed those comments to the committee.

“On the Mateer case, he did not disclose the information before the judicial evaluation committee,” he said. “That’s a serious broach of protocol.”

Asked about Grassley’s comments at Tuesday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she was “not sure” if Grassley and Trump have “spoken directly” on the matter.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

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