@SenWhitehouse / Twitter MUST WATCH Republican SenJohnKennedy asks one...
@SenWhitehouse / Twitter

The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s judicial nominees. Already this week, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has stated that two of Trump’s nominees, Jeff Mateer and Brett Talley, will not be confirmed, both grossly unqualified for the job. 

Matthew Petersen, a nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia made his first appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday and Republican Sen. Joe Kennedy (LA) used his time to ask Petersen basic questions on the law and Petersen was unable to answer a single question. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse shared the video on Twitter and it has quickly gone viral. As Whitehouse, noted “Hoo boy.” You just have to see for yourself (video and partial transcript below).

Here’s a partial transcript:

SEN. KENNEDY: Have any of you not tried a case to verdict in a courtroom?

(Petersen raises his hand)

SEN. KENNEDY: Mr. Petersen. Have you ever tried a jury trial?

PETERSEN: I have not.



SEN. KENNEDY: Criminal?




SEN. KENNEDY: State or federal court?

PETERSEN: I have not.

SEN. KENNEDY: Have you ever taken a deposition?

PETERSEN: I was involved in taking deposition when I was associate at Wiley Rein. […]

SEN. KENNEDY: How many depositions?

PETERSEN: I’d be struggling to remember.

SEN. KENNEDY: Less than 10? Less than five?

PETERSEN: Probably somewhere.

SEN. KENNEDY: Have you ever taken a deposition by yourself?


SEN. KENNEDY: Okay. Have you ever argued a motion in state court?

PETERSEN: I have not.

SEN. KENNEDY: Have you ever argued a motion in federal court?

PETERSEN: I have not.

SEN. KENNEDY: When’s the last time you read the federal rules of civil procedure?

PETERSEN: Uh, the federal rules of civil procedure—uh, I, in my current position I obviously don’t have to stay uh, uh, invested in those on a day-to-day basis, but I do try to keep up-to-speed. We do have, at the Federal Election Commission, roughly 70 attorneys who work under our guidance, including a large litigation division. And, uh, as a commissioner we oversee that litigation. We advise on legal strategy, provide recommendations and edits to briefs and so forth and meet with them about how we are going to handle this—

SEN. KENNEDY: If I could ask, I’m sorry to interrupt you, but we are only given five minutes for the five of you, so—When’s the last time you read the federal rules of evidence?

PETERSEN: The federal rules of evidence all the way through? Well, comprehensively would’ve been in law school. Uh, obviously I have been involved in, when I was an associate, that was something that we had to stay closely abreast of and uh, there have been some issues … that cause me to examine those periodically in our oversight role at the Federal Election Commission.  

It did not get any better from there. Kennedy used the remainder of his time to continue to question Petersen’s judicial fitness and time and time again, Petersen failed to answer the most basic questions about the law. This Trump nominee, like many others, is grossly unfit to be a U.S. District Judge. It is impossible to see how this nomination moves forward, especially when Republican senators are the ones striking the biggest blows in the confirmation hearings. 

Sen. Kennedy did end his questioning with one jaw-dropping final question:

“Any of you blog? Any of you ever blogged in support of the Ku Klux Klan?” 

That question was likely in reference to another Trump nominee, Brett Talley, a ghosthunter who has never tried a case (seriously), who once wrote a blog post in defense of the KKK.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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