‘Not Qualified’ Judicial Nominee Didn’t Tell Senate He’s Married To WH Lawyer

Brett J. Talley, a lawyer with no trial experience who is nevertheless President Donald Trump’s pick for a lifetime federal district judgeship, did not disclose to the Senate that he is married to a senior lawyer who is chief of staff to the White House counsel.

The New York Times reported on Monday that Talley did not disclose his marriage to Ann Donaldson, chief of staff to top White House lawyer Don McGahn, either in his Senate questionnaire or during his nomination process.

Talley did not name Donaldson in response to a question on the questionnaire asking him to list any “family members or other persons, parties, categories of litigation, and financial arrangements that are likely to present potential conflicts-of-interest.”

Democratic lawmakers have harshly criticized Donaldson’s nomination to a lifetime position, based on the 36-year-old lawyer’s total lack of trial experience and the fact that the American Bar Association has rated him “not qualified.”

“How can you claim to be qualified for a lifetime appointment to supervise federal trials on a daily basis when you have never yourself tried a single case?” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked Talley in another written questionnaire.

In response, Talley cited his other legal work and said, “If I am confirmed, I will work diligently to supplement that experience in areas where I have less familiarity.”

In response to a question about the judicial offices he has held, Talley responded on his Senate questionnaire, “I have never held judicial office.”

In the questionnaire’s subsection on trial experience, he left all further questions unanswered.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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