WASHINGTON — Matthew Petersen on Monday withdrew his nomination to be a judge on the federal district court in Washington, less than a week after a video of his confirmation hearing went viral because it showed him unable to answer Sen. John N. Kennedy’s questions on basic litigation principles.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., mocked Peterson’s performance when he posted the video of the nominee stumbling over answers as a “MUST WATCH” in a tweet that concluded “he can’t answer a single one. Hoo-boy.”

That tweet got more than 80,000 retweets and 136,000 likes.

In a withdrawal letter, Petersen cited his past experience on the Federal Election Commission and as a chief counsel to a Senate committee, as well as the American Bar Association ranking him unanimously as qualified.

“I had hoped that my nearly two decades of public service might carry more weight than my two worst minutes on television,” Petersen wrote in his withdrawal letter. “However, I am no stranger to political realities, and I do not wish to be a continued distraction from the important work of your Administration and the Senate.”

Peterson is the third judicial appointee from President Donald Trump to be tripped up by the confirmation process.

Last week, Brett Talley, a nominee to be a district judge in Alabama offered to withdraw his nomination.

—CQ Roll Call


Trump officials must allow two pregnant immigrant teens to get abortions, judge rules

WASHINGTON — Trump administration officials must allow two pregnant teenage immigrants being held in a detention facility to see a doctor about having abortions, a federal judge ruled Monday.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington issued a temporary restraining order that bars administration officials from preventing the two 17-year olds from leaving the shelter where they’re being held.

Officials are “required to transport” the two or allow them “to be transported, promptly and without delay… to an abortion provider, in order to obtain any pregnancy or abortion-related medical care,” the judge said.

But the judge, an Obama administration appointee, also agreed to put her order on hold for 24 hours to “preserve the opportunity to seek emergency relief from the D.C. Circuit” if the administration chooses to appeal.

The judge’s order reignites a bitter battle between the American Civil Liberties Union and the Trump administration over abortion rights for young women taken into custody after crossing the border illegally. Minors who surrender to immigration officials after crossing the border without parents are usually kept in detention facilities.

The government does not provide or pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or a threat to the woman’s life. Prior to this year, unaccompanied migrants in detention could obtain an abortion if they paid for it with private funds.

—Tribune Washington Bureau


9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski steps down after accusations of sexual misconduct

LOS ANGELES — Alex Kozinski, a prominent voice on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said Monday he was retiring immediately in the face of more than a dozen reports of sexual misconduct.

Kozinski, who served more than three decades on the appeals court, faced allegations that he showed clerks pornography, improperly touched women and kept a chart of his college sexual conquests.

The brash, outspoken judge was strong presence on the court. He espoused quirky positions and a sense of humor that delighted some but that in the end he said contributed to his downfall.

The Washington Post first reported the vast majority of allegations against the judge and news of his retirement. Kozinski confirmed he was leaving the bench in a text message to the Los Angeles Times.

He said in a prepared statement that he was retiring because he could no longer be an effective judge. Two of his four law clerks resigned last week as reports of his misbehavior escalated on the Internet.

Though known as a conservative, the Reagan appointee considered himself more a libertarian.

—Los Angeles Times


Pet-less Trump is criticized for saying Pence is ‘low-class’ for having pets

PHILADELPHIA — Vice President Mike Pence and his family live with two cats, a rabbit and a snake at their official residence on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington.

That makes them “low-class,” according to his boss, who said he was “embarrassed” by the menagerie, and who labeled the Pences “yokels,” according to The Atlantic.

So now, President Donald Trump — whose statements have offended immigrants, Muslims, the disabled, women, prisoners of war, and even Arnold Schwarzenegger — has insulted one of the most passionate (and numerous) subsets of Americans there is:

Pet people.

“Oh, you kind of expect something like this from him,” hissed Ed Smith, 50, who had just treated his shih tzu, Frankie, to some kibble and Christmas presents from a Pet Smart in Northeast Philadelphia. “Animals just make you love them, you know. They’re just good.”

For his part, James Serpell, professor of ethics and animal welfare at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, said, “Mr. Trump has got it wrong,” adding that pet ownership isn’t “low-class” at all.

In fact, he said, owning an animal “has remained a respectable middle-class activity” since the 19th century.

And not just the middle class.

Museums are filled with paintings of the well-fed, well-to-do posing with their pets — mostly dogs, many of which were bred by kings, queens and clergy — noted sociologist Linda Kalof of Michigan State University, editor of the Oxford Handbook of Animal Studies.

Nearly 64 percent of people who live in households making $85,000 a year or more own pets, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Overall, around two-thirds of American households have pets, said Leslie Irvine, a sociologist at the University of Colorado.

—The Philadelphia Inquirer


US blocks UN vote calling for Trump to rescind Jerusalem decision

UNITED NATIONS — The United States vetoed a Security Council resolution on Jerusalem Monday that called on all states to refrain from establishing embassies in the city.

The resolution, submitted by Egypt, criticized decisions that seek to alter “the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem” and called for them to be rescinded, but stopped short of naming President Donald Trump and the U.S. explicitly.

Trump earlier this month said the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would begin work to move its embassy there from Tel Aviv.

The vote came shortly before Vice President Mike Pence canceled a planned visit to Egypt and Israel this week, which will now take place in January.

Officials said Pence was staying for a key Senate vote on tax reform. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had said he would not meet with Pence after Trump’s decision.

The U.S. was alone in voting against Monday’s draft resolution at the Security Council, with the 14 other member countries voting in favor, including France and Britain, which are generally closely aligned with the U.S.

Nine votes in favor plus the support of all five veto-wielding members of the council were needed to pass the resolution.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley called the outcome “an insult” and said “it won’t be forgotten.”



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