Two of President Donald Trump’s most controversial judicial nominees might not make it to the bench after all.
On Tuesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley told CNN that he had encouraged Trump to withdraw the nominations of Brett Talley and Jeff Mateer. “I’ve advised the White House they ought to reconsider,” Grassley said of Talley and Mateer, whom Trump nominated to district courts in Alabama and Texas respectively. “I would advise the White House not to proceed.” (Update, 7:00 p.m.: On Tuesday evening, BuzzFeed reported that Talley has offered to withdraw his nomination.)
Grassley’s unusual move puts both nominations in grave jeopardy, and it may reflect a growing skepticism among Republicans toward Trump’s most outlandish judicial nominees. It does not, however, appear to signal broader GOP opposition to the administration’s choices for the federal bench. Shortly after Grassley disclaimed Talley and Mateer, Senate Republicans approved the appointment of Leonard Grasz, an unqualified and temperamental abortion foe, to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
Many Democrats, and at least one Senate Republican, have questioned both Talley and Mateer’s fitness for the bench. Talley is just 36 years old and has extremely limited legal experience. On his Senate questionnaire, he failed to disclose that he is married to Ann Donaldson, the chief of staff to the White House counsel—a likely conflict of interest. As BuzzFeed reported, he also declined to disclose message board posts that he appeared to have written under the name BamainBoston on a sports website, TideFans.com. These posts included a defense of “the first KKK” and repudiation of Roe v. Wade. BamainBoston also proposed a solution to the botched execution of death row inmates, arguing that the government should “just shoot them.” And he wrote of mass shootings: “My solution would be to stop being a society of pansies and man up.”