President Donald Trump on Wednesday took several public timeouts during his daily coronavirus briefing to skewer Democrats for failing to quickly confirm many of his recommended appointees to federal offices — including federal judges. He suggested his nominees should only face “one hour” worth of Senate hearings before they are confirmed. “We can’t get them approved by the Democrats in the Senate because they’re taking so long to approve our judges,” Trump said of several administration picks, while also noting that his administration has scored the approval of a “record” numbers of judges.
The Senate has been controlled by Republicans throughout the Trump presidency. That fact is apparently irrelevant.
“It’s ridiculous, and everyone knows they’re going to be approved,” Trump said of his nominees. “But there’s only so many hours in the day when you go through judges, and you go through lengthy hearings on judges that they know should be approved immediately and they could do it in one session, one — and they can do it in one hour, and instead it takes them many days.”
WATCH the above quote in the player above.
“Rather than approving somebody who is highly qualified … rather than going quickly, they take the maximum amount of time, whatever that time may be — and what they’re doing by doing that is taking days to approve somebody that could be approved in a quick vote,” Trump also said. He said that the delays were affecting nominees who received “phenomenal reviews” in committees.
“Every single judge, ever nominee we have, goes through a maximum — or at least they go through a long process, so it takes days and days and there’s no time left, and it’s just a concerted effort to make life difficult,” Trump went on to say. “It’s always roadblocks and a waste of time.”
Federal judges are appointed pursuant to Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution. The Senate must give its “advice and consent” before a judge is seated.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) last September touted the Senate Judiciary Committee’s appointment of its 150th judge during the Trump Administration by saying he would “continue to push through highly qualified, conservative judges” who “will impact our country for years to come.”
“Judges are a priority,” Trump said Wednesday, noting that young judges would hold lifetime roles for decades to come.
Among the officials Trump wants appointed is a new head for Voice of America, Michael Pack. He said the programming pushed to worldwide audiences by the government broadcaster was currently a “disgrace” and “disgusting.”
Trump threatened to use his constitutional authority to force Congress into a recess so that he could ponder recess appointments.
Per Article II: The President “may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper.”
— Andy Grewal (@AndyGrewal) April 15, 2020
Trump further chided the Senate for meeting recently in a “pro forma” session, which is officially a very short session. Trump explained that usually no one shows up.
Blasts pro forma sessions as “phony,” a “dereliction of duty,” and a “scam” … Says he needs people here to deal with the crisis, tired of playing “political games.”
— Andy Grewal (@AndyGrewal) April 15, 2020
Trump said that by forcing Congress into a recess, he could potentially begin to make recess appointments, but they carry their own baggage: a judge appointed during a recess (without advice or consent from the Senate) is theoretically open to removal. However, it is allowed, as this 9th Circuit case explains.
A report last spring from the conservative Heritage Foundation discusses, in detail, the number of judicial vacancies which piled up before and during the Trump presidency. Some of the pileup occurred because “confirmations declined to a record low” during the waning years of the Obama administration: “Vacancies on Article III courts were higher when President Trump took office and increased by 26 percent.”
The more recent pileup, the report says, is attributable in part to “[t]he Judiciary Committee h[olding] a hearing for 40 percent more of President Trump’s nominees.”
[Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images]
Editor’s note: This piece has been updated to include video and to include additional quotes from Trump.
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