Donald Trump and Republican senators are trying to jam through an unqualified judicial nominee whose wife is a witness in Robert Mueller's investigation. One watchdog group called it "not just nepotism, but also potential ... witness tampering."
The spouse of a witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has been nominated for a federal judgeship by Donald Trump.
Brett J. Talley is married to Ann Donaldson, who currently serves as chief of staff to Trump’s White House counsel, Donald McGhan. Talley hid his marital connections on the documents submitted to the U.S. Senate, the body considering his nomination.
The forms directly ask applicants to indicate figures who are “likely to present potential conflicts of interest,” yet Talley made no mention of his wife’s position or the fact that is a witness in the Russia probe.
The New York Times reports that Donaldson “has emerged in recent weeks as a witness in the special counsel’s investigation into whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice.” She was interviewed recently by investigators about her “detailed notes” on conversations with her boss on issues like the decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.
Trump fired Comey after pressuring him to publicly clear his name regarding Russian interference in the election. Comey declined to do so, and his firing triggered the appointment of special counsel Mueller.
Norm Eisen, chairman for Citizens for Ethics in Washington (CREW), said the nomination “is not just nepotism, but also potential conflict of interest &/or witness tampering.”
He described the arrangement as “a Trump reward to the unqualified family member of a witness in the Mueller investigation,” and called for it to be reviewed by the special counsel.
In addition to the conflict of interest and possible tampering triggered by the nomination, Talley has been unanimously declared “not qualified” by the American Bar Association. Only two judicial nominees since 1989 have received a similar rating.
Talley has never tried a case, yet Trump would have him oversee legal decisions affecting millions of people. If he were confirmed, Talley would have oversight on crucial legal proceedings involving the Trump administration, including issues like the multiple attempts at a Muslim travel ban that have been shut down by the courts thus far.
On the Senate Judiciary Committee, only Trump’s fellow Republicans backed Talley’s nomination, with all Democrats voting against him. He passed through on a 11 to 9 vote.
Talley also has a history of publishing nonsense online. He referred to Hillary Clinton as “Hillary Rotten Clinton” on his Twitter account, which he made private after the contents were publicized. He also wrote on his blog while President Barack Obama was in power that armed revolution was necessary against tyrannical government.
He described efforts by Obama and other Democrats to pursue enhanced background checks after the Sandy Hook massacre as “the greatest attack on our constitutional freedoms in our lifetime.”
None of these issues gave Republicans any pause, and the pay for play with the Mueller investigation may have even tipped the scales in his favor with Trump.
This is what the judiciary system looks like under Republican control.