Matthew Petersen: Test-flunking Trump judge nominee withdraws

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Media captionTrump’s nominee for judge can’t answer basic legal questions

US President Donald Trump’s latest judiciary nominee has withdrawn his name after failing to answer basic legal questions at his Senate confirmation hearing.

Video of the embarrassing encounter went viral.

“It has become clear to me over the last few days that my nomination has become a distraction,” Mr Petersen wrote in a letter.

Mr Petersen was nominated as a federal judge in the District of Columbia.

Mr Trump had accepted his offer to withdraw, the White House said.

Mr Peterson, a Republican member of the Federal Election Commission, is the latest of Mr Trump’s conservative judicial nominations to fail.

In the video, Mr Peterson stumbled over questions asked by Republican Senator John Kennedy.

The Louisiana Senator, who still fully supports Mr Trump, openly criticised his nominee in a later TV interview.

“Just because you’ve seen My Cousin Vinny doesn’t qualify you to be a federal judge,” Mr Kennedy told local station WWL-TV, referring to the 1992 comedy film about a novice lawyer.

Mr Kennedy told the station that Mr Trump called him after learning of the exchange and agreed that Mr Peterson was too inexperienced.

Mr Peterson, who became the third of Mr Trump’s judicial picks to flounder in just a week, said: “I had hoped that my nearly two decades of public service might carry more weight than my two worst minutes on television.”

Despite recent setbacks, Mr Trump has made progress filling other judicial vacancies with conservative judges and notably restored the Supreme Court’s conservative majority with the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch.

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