President Trump's nominee to fill a vacant D.C. District Court Judge seat has withdrawn his name from consideration after an embarrassing video went viral of him bungling basic legal questions at his confirmation hearing on December 13.
Matthew Petersen, a member of the Federal Election Commission and former Obama-appointed Chairman of the regulatory agency, struggled to answer a series of questions by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) that any attorney should be able to answer.
After Petersen admitted he's never tried a case as an attorney, Kennedy reminded him that as a trial judge he'd have to deal with witnesses, and asked the nominee what the "Daubert standard" is - a rule of evidence regarding the admissibility of an expert witness testimony. Petersen replied "I don't have that readily at my disposal." When asked next what a "motion in limine" is, referring to a request to exclude certain evidence in a trial, Petersen said he hadn't had the time to "do a deep dive," adding that he would "probably not be able to give you a good definition right here at the table."
Petersen's embarrassing performance can be seen below:
Sen. Kennedy said in a Monday morning interview on WWL-TV that “Just because you’ve seen My Cousin Vinny doesn’t qualify you to be a federal judge,” adding “And he has no litigation experience. And my job on the judiciary committee is to catch him. I would strongly suggest he not give up his day job.”
Kennedy also said President Trump called him after the video went viral, stating “The president and I get along fine, and he has told me, ‘Kennedy, when some of my guys send somebody over who’s not qualified, you do your job,” he said.
In Petersen's withdrawal letter, he wrote "My nomination has become a distraction." despite hoping that his "nearly two decades of public service might carry more weight than my two worst minutes on television"
NEW: Matthew Petersen, Trump judicial nominee questioned before Senate Judiciary Committee last week, withdraws, writing, "My nomination has become a distraction." pic.twitter.com/SwwoQ3eC0m— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) December 18, 2017
With Kennedy "strongly suggesting" Petersen keep his job at the Federal Election Commission, it appears the wannabe lawyer decided to do just that.