Trump Judicial Nominee Who Starred in That Embarrassing Viral Video Drops Out

“Just because you’ve seen My Cousin Vinny doesn’t qualify you to be a federal judge.”

/C-SPAN

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Matthew Spencer Petersen, a member of the Federal Election Commission who President Donald Trump had nominated to the US District Court for D.C., has withdrawn his name from consideration. Petersen’s nomination came under scrutiny last week, after a video of his confirmation hearing—during which Senator Kennedy (R-LA) asked him basic questions about the law that he could not answer—went viral

Buzzfeed obtained the letter that, on Saturday, Petersen sent to the President, announcing his withdrawal. “I had hoped my nearly two decades of public service might carry more weight than my two worst minutes on television,” he wrote. “However, I am no stranger to political realities, and I do not wish to be a continued distraction from the important work of your Administration and the Senate.”

In a statement to The Hill, a White House official confirmed that the President has “accepted” Petersen’s withdrawal.

Petersen’s move follows the withdrawal of two other other controversial nominees, Brett Talley and Jeff Mateer, whom the White House abandoned last week after Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told the President to “reconsider.”  

The withdrawals are some of the first bumps in Trump’s otherwise fast-moving effort to remake the federal courts. In an interview today, Senator Kennedy said that Trump called him on Saturday and tacitly suggested that more unqualified judges may be coming. As Kennedy told a New Orleans TV station: “The President and I get along fine. [Trump] has told me, ‘Kennedy, when some of my guys send someone over who is not qualified, you do your job.'”

“Just because you’ve seen My Cousin Vinny doesn’t qualify you to be a federal judge,” Kennedy said to WWLTV.

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

Straight to the point: Donations have been concerningly slow for our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, over the next few weeks so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

Straight to the point: Donations have been concerningly slow for our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, over the next few weeks so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate