Dem Senator Mocks Trump Judicial Nominee for Failing to Answer 'Basic' Questions

Posted: Dec 15, 2017 10:50 AM

One of President Trump's judicial nominees struggled to answer a Republican senator's questions at his confirmation hearing Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) pressed Matthew Spencer Petersen, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to define several legal terms. He did not seem able to offer a direct answer to any of the inquiries.

"I would probably not be able to give you a good definition," Petersen responded when asked to define "a motion in limine."

"I don’t have that readily at my disposal" and "I haven’t been able to do a deep dive" were a couple of his other go to answers. He simply shook his head on other occasions. 

"When is the last time you read the Federal Rules of Evidence," Kennedy wondered at one point. 

"Comprehensively - in law school," Kennedy noted.

"Hoo-boy," Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said, sharing the cringe worthy five-minute exchange on Twitter.

Petersen admitted there would be "challenges" to ease into his role as a district court judge, but he has experience in a decision making role as a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission.

Kennedy was aware of Petersen's resume, but was clearly disappointed that the nominee did not have a basic understanding of terms he would undoubtedly see frequently in federal court. 

The Republican senator has criticized other Trump judicial picks in recent weeks. Upon learning that one of his nominees, Brett Talley, did not disclose that his wife was a White House lawyer, Kennedy spoke out.

Trump is getting some "very bad advice" on these nominees, Kennedy said at the time.

The White House has since withdrawn Talley's nomination, as well as the nomination of Jeff Mateer, who had a history of controversial comments.