Flake Flexes Anti-Trump Muscle In Holding Up Judicial Nominee

on January 25, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is well-known for his disapproving tweets about President Donald Trump, but his recent moves may be may amount to more than empty condemnations.

For the second week in a row, Flake has held up one of President Donald Trump’s appellate court nominees, but it’s unclear why, or how long he plans to continue the protest.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said in a statement Thursday:

“Britt Grant, nominated to the 11th Circuit [Court of Appeals], is on today’s agenda again. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to vote on her nomination today and will hold her over for another week while Senator Flake works out his concerns with the administration and leader’s office on issues not related to her nomination.”

Spokespeople for Flake, Grassley and the White House did not immediately return TPM’s requests for comment.

Amanda Maddox, communications director for Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), told TPM Thursday the Flake hadn’t explained himself to Isakson.

“Senator Isakson has spoken directly to Senator Flake,” she said. “We still do not know Flake’s reasoning.”

Tom Mentzer, a spokesperson for committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), also told TPM he didn’t know what was behind Flake’s hold. “You’ll have to ask Flake,” he said.

RollCall reported Tuesday on Flake blocking Grant’s nomination last week, and CNN reported Wednesday that Flake was threatening to block more nominees if he didn’t get his way on two specific issues.

“Oh, it’s just something I’m working out,” Flake told RollCall Tuesday.

One unnamed source told CNN Flake wanted “to spur discussions on travel restrictions to Cuba as well as issues related to tariffs,” in the publication’s words.

“We’re discussing it,” Flake told CNN.

Isakson on Tuesday expressed anger about the move to RollCall: “[Flake] has no reason for her not to go forward,” he said, after telling the publication he “confronted” Flake about the hold. “It’s an indiscriminate, irresponsible use of a privilege of the Senate.”

A week ago, on June 14, Grassley told RollCall that his staff had told him not to hold a vote on Grant.

“I don’t have a reason,” he told the outlet. “They just said that we didn’t have the votes and so we shouldn’t bring it up. That’s the only reason I know, and there may be another reason.”

“If it is a controversial one, we probably would have to have all 11 Republicans. So if one Republican wouldn’t vote, and it’s 10 to 10, then we’re not going to take it up,” Grassley told CNN.

Correction: This post initially identified Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He is not. TPM regrets the error. 

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