The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Thursday one of President Trump’s judicial picks didn’t disclose roughly 16,000 online posts in addition to a conflict of interest, raising questions about his role at the Justice Department in vetting other judicial nominees.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, said Brett Talley, an Alabama district court nominee, didn’t disclose to the committee 16,000 online posts, some of which were controversial about shooting death row inmates, defending the Ku Klux Klan and statutory rape, which the nominee had made prior to his confirmation hearing.
She said he also didn’t answer question 24 on the committee’s questionnaire for all nominees about potential conflicts of interest with family members, as Mr. Talley’s spouse is chief of staff for Don McGahn, White House chief counsel.
“He currently serves on the Department of Justice, working on judicial nominations,” Ms. Feinstein said of Mr. Talley. “It’s his job to advise other nominees on what they must disclose to the committee.”
Ms. Feinstein suggested the rapid pace of judicial nominees who have been processed by the committee is to blame for the lack of sufficient vetting. She said this month alone, the committee has held hearings for five circuit court nominees.
“I’ve served on the judiciary committee since January of 1993 and during my entire tenure, the committee has never heard hearings for five circuit court nominees in a single month,” she said.
“Taking the time to ensure each nominee is properly and thoroughly vetted, and their record reviewed, carefully is the role of this committee.”
But it isn’t only Democrats that are questioning the vetting of Mr. Trump’s picks for the federal bench.
Sen. John Kennedy, Lousiana Republican, also raised concerns over Mr. Talley’s nomination earlier this week.
“He’s never tried a lawsuit in his natural life, and he’s going to be on the federal bench? Give me a break,” Mr. Kennedy said about the nominee on Tuesday. “It is embarrassing and I think the president of the United States is getting some very, very bad advice.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The committee also delayed — for the second time — a vote on Mr. Trump’s nominee for the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, Leonard Grasz, who the American Bar Association rated not qualified — just as it did Mr. Talley.
“The letter you sent me asking that Mr. Grasz be held over another week indicates to me you are looking into his record and you haven’t decided how you’re going to vote,” committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, said to Ms. Feinstein.
Mr. Grassley said it appears the ABA “relied on faulty information on the evaluation of him” and the committee should be able to resolve the issue and vote on Mr. Grasz’s confirmation next week.