President Trump’s controversial nominee to serve as a district court judge even though he has never been a judge or even tried a case in federal court, Brad J. Talley, is now in hot water for failing to disclose a huge conflict of interest on a Senate questionnaire.
Talley, 36-years-old, did not reveal that he is married to a senior lawyer in the White House legal counsel’s office, Ann Donaldson, who is chief of staff to White House Counsel Donald F. McGahn II.
Donaldson has been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators and is expected to be called as a witness in the investigation into Trump’s collusion with Russia in the 2016 presidential election.
Donaldson did not meet personally with the president but kept detailed notes about conversations McGahn had with Trump on topics including the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, reports The New York Times, based on at least two sources.
Talley was confirmed late last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee strictly along party lines, with not a single Democrat voting to approve his appointment.
His appointment was expected to come before the full Senate this week, where once again Republicans are poised to push him through despite considerable opposition.
Talley’s appointment is controversial not only because he is an outspoken conservative with some extreme views, but also because he has been rated unqualified by the American Bar Association.
Talley has never tried a case in court and has only been a lawyer for three years, most of which he did not even practice law, working as an aide to a Senator and in government.
Talley, a protege of interim Senator Luther Strange of Alabama (who lost his primary run for reelection to Roy Moore, who is now being accused of dating underage girls).
If confirmed, Talley would serve as a federal judge on a bench in Alabama.
Democrats say Talley is one of a number of youthful conservatives the Republicans are rushing to appoint in order to pack the federal bench before Trump is forced out as president, or the Republican party loses its majority in Congress.
Trump has boasted that some of his appointees will be around to influence the law of the land for the next 40 years.
In a Senate questionnaire that was released to the public, Talley was asked to identify family members and others who are “likely to present potential conflicts of interest.”
He never mentioned his wife.
As a district court judge, Talley could be called on to make rulings that could be in conflict with the desires of the White Hosue and President Trump, so a conflict is possible.
Talley also did not bring up his wife when describing what the New York Times describes as “frequent contacts with White House lawyers during the nomination process.”
Talley was actually hired by the Justice Department to find judicial nominees, and do due diligence on candidates. He found himself and failed to reveal his due diligence properly.
McGahn has been involved in helping Trump pack the federal bench with deeply conservative young judges. Although Talley was hired to find those young judges, the White House insists he is qualified and had no role in the process of packing the courts.
It appears obvious that Talley both had something to hide, and the White House was not being forthcoming about his role in the vetting process, from which he emerged.
This is shaping up as not only an embarrassment for the Trump administration as it rushes to fill the many vacancies on the bench created in the last two years of President Obama’s administration when Mitch McConnell and Republicans refused to confirm judicial appointees, but also a potential scandal.
It was bad enough that Talley was completely unqualified for the highly paid lifetime position as a federal judge, but now it turns out he is deceitful and dishonest, or just completely ignorant of the law.
Either way, he has no business being a federal judge.