Democratic Sen. Feinstein says judicial nominee has conflict


Brett Talley has inched closer to becoming a district judge in his home state of Alabama after receiving the backing of the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC).

President Donald Trump's nominee for an Alabama federal court judgeship is being criticized for not disclosing in his confirmation process his wife's role in the White House. He passed the judiciary committee on a party-line vote Thursday.

While Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Talley is "more than qualified to serve in the federal judiciary", Trump's pick hasn't gone down well with everyone. However, the White House, with counsel Don McGahn taking the lead, has been hard at work appointing new federal judges to lifetime positions in an attempt to give the federal courts a conservative makeover.

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Trump nominated Talley to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama in September.

His wife, Donaldson, actually holds three different titles in the White House: Deputy assistant to the president, special counsel to the president, and chief of staff to the White House Counsel.

Talley, one of just a small handful of judicial nominees to get the "not qualified" rating from the American Bar Association since 1989, could be confirmed by the full Senate as soon as this week. Reports that Talley's wife, Ann Donaldson, has been interviewed in conjunction Special Counsel Mueller's investigation of possible obstruction of justice represents a clear conflict of interest that should have been disclosed. Shortly after, he became a law clerk in Alabama, spending two years in a federal-district court and another two at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

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In the section headed "Potential Conflicts of Interest", the Senate asked Talley to "identify the family members or other persons ... that are likely to present potential conflicts of interest".

Talley has faced scrutiny after he was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee despite having never tried a case. He worked as a political speechwriter for three years, first for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in 2012 and then for Sen. She is one of several lawyers from the firm who were tapped to join the Trump administration, some as attorneys for the White House, including McGahn. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, from 2013 to 2015.

The American Bar Association has already labeled Talley "not qualified" in a rare denouncing of the 2007 Harvard grad's candidacy.

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In a statement defending Talley's nomination, Grassley said he does not believe "extensive trial experience" is the only factor in deciding on a nominee's qualifications.