Politics

Judge’s White House Connection Should’ve Come Up in Committee, Grassley Says

Federal nominee Brett Talley is married to White House counsel chief of staff

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Any concerns over Alabama federal district judge nominee Brett Talley’s marriage to a top-ranking White House employee should have been addressed during the confirmation hearing, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley said Monday.

Talley did not list his marriage to Ann Donaldson, who serves as chief of staff to White House counsel David McGhan II, on his public disclosure forms, according to a New York Times report.

“That wife was in the audience when we had a hearing. How come that didn’t come up at that particular time?” the Iowa Republican said. “His wife was employed at that time. She was in the very room where that question should have been asked.”

Judiciary’s ranking Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein released a statement earlier Monday reiterating her disapproval of Talley and criticizing the nominee.

“But by failing to disclose that his wife is one of President Trump’s lawyers, Talley has betrayed his obligation to be open and transparent with the Senate and American people,” Feinstein said.

Talley’s marriage to Donaldson was previously reported by a news outlet and would have been included in the FBI’s background report given to the committee.

A spokesperson for the committee said nominees are not required to list the occupation of a spouse on their questionnaire.

“Any insinuation that there’s any conflict with the Special Counsel’s investigation is absurd, as charges are being filed in the District of Columbia, not the Middle District of Alabama, where Talley is nominated to be a judge,” the spokesperson said.

On his questionnaire, Talley said he would “evaluate any other real or potential conflict, or relationships that could give rise to the appearance of conflict, on a case by case basis and determine the appropriate actions with the advice of parties and their counsel, including recusal where necessary.”

Talley was given a “not qualified” ranking from the American Bar Association. His nomination cleared the judiciary panel last week.

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