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Trump Nominee for Federal Bench Withdraws

  • Ken Schwartz

FILE - The U.S. Capitol building in Washington is seen Jan. 19, 2017.

A lawyer President Donald Trump nominated to be a federal judge has withdrawn his name days after his Senate confirmation hearing.

"I hoped that my nearly two decades of public service might carry more weight than my two worst minutes on television," Matthew Petersen said in his letter to the president. "It has become clear to me over the past few days that my nomination has become a distraction, and that's not fair for you or your administration."

Petersen is a lawyer on the Federal Election Commission.

During questioning from the Senate Judiciary Committee, Petersen admitted he has never tried a case in any courtroom, stammered while answering questions, and was unable to define some basic law terms.

"Just because you've seen My Cousin Vinnie doesn't qualify you to be a federal judge," Republican Senator John Kennedy told a Louisiana television station. He was referring to a 1992 comedy film about a lawyer with almost no trial experience.

Petersen is the third Trump nominee to the federal bench in the past week not to make it past the judiciary committee.

Brett Talley was rejected for positive comments about the Ku Klux Klan he allegedly wrote and for failing to disclose that his wife works in the White House.

CNN reported that another nominee, Jeff Mateer, had once made a speech in which he called transgender children part of "Satan's plans."