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Train Wreck: Trump Judicial Nominee Can’t Answer Basic Questions About The Law In Humiliating Hearing

During a confirmation hearing on Thursday, one of President Donald Trump’s nominees for a lifetime appointment as a U.S. district court judge struggled to answer basic questions about the law, making it obvious that he had none of the experience typically expected of a federal judge.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), had just five minutes to question the five Trump appointees. First, he asked if any of them had not tried a case to verdict in a courtroom.

When Matthew Spencer Petersen, a nominee for U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, raised his hand, Kennedy focused mostly on him for the duration of his time.

KENNEDY: Have you ever tried a jury trial?

PETERSEN: I have not.



KENNEDY: Criminal?




KENNEDY: State or federal court?

PETERSEN: I have not.

It only got worse from there.

KENNEDY: As a trial judge, you’re obviously going to have witnesses. Can you tell me what the Daubert standard is?

PETERSEN: Sen. Kennedy, I don’t have that readily at my disposal but I would be happy to take a closer look at that. That is not something I’ve had to contend with.

KENNEDY: Do you know what a motion in limine is?

PETERSEN: Yes.. I haven’t, I’m, again, my background is not in litigation as when I was replying to Chairman (Chuck) Grassley (R-Iowa), I haven’t had to um, again, do a deep dive.

Petersen then began ticking off his experience “in a decision-making role” at the FEC. Kennedy interrupted him:

KENNEDY: Yes, I’ve read your resume. Just for the record, do you know what a motion in limine is?

PETERSEN: I would probably not be able to give you a good definition right here at the table.

KENNEDY: Do you know what the Younger abstention doctrine is?

PETERSEN: Um, I’ve heard of it… but I, again.

KENNEDY: How about the Pullman abstention doctrine?

PETERSEN: I… I heard…

KENNEDY: Y’all see that a lot in federal court.

Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) took to Twitter on Thursday night to mock the inept judicial pick.

In the tweet that begins, “MUST WATCH,” Whitehouse linked to a clip of Trump nominee Matthew Spencer Petersen struggling to respond to basic legal questions from the Judiciary Committee, with the Democratic senator adding at the end at the end of his tweet: “hoo boy.”

See the full exchange in the video below:

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