White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday that President Trump’s nominee to a U.S. district court whose performance during his confirmation hearing went viral wasn't “the right person for that position.”
“We ... are looking always for the best and brightest,” Sanders told reporters during the White House press briefing. “And when we felt like that wasn't necessarily the right person for that position, he has withdrawn his nomination. We haven’t continued to go forward.”
Trump nominated Matthew Petersen, a member of the Federal Election Commission, to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. But during an exchange with Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., during his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Petersen struggled to answer questions about legal principles and terms.
He also revealed he has never tried a case in criminal or civil court, or federal or state court.
A video of the exchange was shared on Twitter and received more than 8 million views.
The White House confirmed Monday that Petersen withdrew his nomination in the wake of his confirmation hearing.
“We’re going to make sure we fill that spot with a really strong and good, qualified candidate,” Sanders said.
Sanders touted the president’s record of federal judicial nominees, which includes the confirmation of 12 circuit court judges — a record for a president's first year in office — and one U.S. Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch.
She also noted that each administration prior to the Trump administration has had to withdraw nominees.
Three of the president’s nominations to U.S. district courts, including Petersen’s, have not proceeded after facing scrutiny.