President Trump’s judicial nominee, Brett J. Talley, to become a federal district judge in Alabama, is awaiting Senate confirmation currently.
But, that might be derailed after it was just discovered that he lied on his Senate questionnaire and hid the fact that his wife, Ann Donaldson, is the chief of staff to the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II.
Judicial nominees are supposed to identify family members and others “likely to present a conflict of interest” and on this portion of the questionnaire, Talley simply left the field blank.
That’s a serious no-no.
Becoming a federal judge is a pretty big deal and their decisions can sometimes come in direct odds with the White House, as the New York Times notes.
President Trump is trying to stack the deck with nominees that will rule in his favor down the line, and considering the major pushback Trump has gotten from federal judges recently on his controversial travel ban, this move by Talley and the White House is deeply concerning.
This isn’t the only time Talley tried to cover up the close family connection. During the nomination process, he also failed to mention his wife when talking about his numerous conversations with White House lawyers. How could he forget to mention it?
So far, Talley has been considered one of Trump’s most controversial judicial nominees. He has been described as a 36-year-old who has never tried a case, and he’s even received a “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Association. Yet, somehow, even despite this, the White House is deciding to stand behind him, thinking him supremely fitting for the job.
“Mr. Talley served as deputy solicitor general for the state of Alabama, currently serves in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy and was recommended by Alabama’s U.S. senators,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary. “He is more than qualified to serve in the federal judiciary.”
Another interesting caveat: Special Counsel Robert Mueller interviewed Talley’s wife into whether or not President Trump obstructed justice. She has a trove of detailed notes regarding her conversations with Mr. McGahn, where they discussed Trump’s role in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
Could this be Trump’s way of paying her back for her cooperation? It’s just a thought.