MSNBC Triggered by All of Trump’s 'White' 'Male' Judges

On Tuesday morning’s MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle, the eponymous host brought on Washington Post columnist and MSNBC contributor Matt Miller to discuss a New York Times piece calling attention to the fact that a current nominee to the federal judiciary did not disclose that he is married to a lawyer who works for the White House Counsel’s Office. Ironically, Ruhle herself failed to disclose that Miller was the Director of the Office of Public Affairs for Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice. Moreover, in the course of discussing the story, Ruhle couldn’t help but interject her bizarre complaints that Trump has been nominating too many “white,” “male” judges to the bench.

The segment began with Ruhle summarizing the main revelations from the Times story and introducing her guest:

Now I gotta talk about something that’s blowing my mind – the growing controversy surrounding President Trump's pick to be a lifetime federal judge in the state of Alabama. Alabama getting a lot of play in the national news these days. The New York Times was first to report -- are you ready for this? 36 year-old Brett Talley failed to disclose that his wife works as a top White House lawyer and has already been interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller. Talley has also been criticized on his qualifications. He's never tried a case and he was given a rare “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Association. I gotta bring in Washington Post columnist and MSNBC contributor Matt Miller back into this conversation. Okie-doke, Matt. I'm a mere civilian, but for me, the official congressional documents that Talley was asked to list family members that were, quote, “likely to present potential conflicts of interest.” He mentioned no one. He did not mention that his wife is Don McGahn's number two. You remember Don McGahn, the top White House lawyer, the one guy who knew President Trump was firing James Comey, or one of the few who did. I mean, hello!?

Unsurprisingly, Miller responded that Talley’s failure to disclose his wife’s position was indeed a problem and painted it as part of a broader pattern of behavior with Trump administration officials:

Yeah, it is inexplicable, Stephanie. It is an obvious conflict of interest. It’s the kind of thing that needs to be disclosed. And the thing that’s so hard to understand about it – it’s not a secret. This was obviously gonna come out. I don't know why this nominee thought that he would somehow sneak by without disclosing this. But, in fact, he did make it through committee. I guess it was that only until after the committee vote we found this out. This is -- you know, it is a pattern of behavior from Trump administration officials where they fail to disclose things on these forms. They only come out later when the press finds out. And it is a, you know, it is yet another mark against this judge who is, you know, let's remember, one of four judicial nominees that the President has nominated who are act- -- have actually been found to be unqualified by the ABA.

 

 

Following up on Miller, Ruhle then injected her comments about too many “white men” being judicial nominees into the conversation: “I’d like to point out how an overwhelming majority all seem to be white men.” However, instead of riffing on that theme for an extended amount of time, the host moved on by asking her guest to play “devil’s advocate” for Talley. Miller was apparently uninterested in doing so, as he simply marched on with his characterization of Talley as trying “to hide [his] conflict of interest from the Senate and from the public.” Given Miller’s lack of direct responsiveness, Ruhle brought it upon herself to bring up the White House’s defense of Talley’s nomination:

I want to share, though, the White House's defense. I mentioned it earlier, the American Bar Association gave him the very rare rating of “not qualified.” I said it earlier, he's never tried a case. But the White House says, quote, “Mr. Talley served as deputy solicitor general for the state of Alabama, currently serves in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy and was recommended by Alabama's U.S. senators. He is more than qualified to serve in the federal judiciary.” What’s your take on their response?

Miller once again replied in a predictable fashion:

Um, they're right, he's had a couple of significant jobs, but these federal judicial positions are the most important positions in the American judi-, you know, in the American court system, right? These deal with some of the most difficult questions we face. And he just doesn't have the experience you would like to see from a -- for a nominee for that position. As I said, he is not the only one. There have been four nominees rated by the American Bar Association, which again, is not a partisan organization. This is an independent, credible third-party that rates nominees, finds whether they’re qualified or not. They’ve looked at his entire record, and they compare it not just -- you know, not -- it’s not just a blank canvas. They look at the other, you know, other nominees over time who have been appointed to these court positions and they found that in the balance, he just doesn't measure up.

This is the problem with covert liberal activists – they pretend to be “independent” arbiters of truth and then, on that basis, they turn around and demand that you accept their conclusions without skepticism. In the case of Miller’s portrayal of the American Bar Association as just such an impartial referee, this is simply not the case. The ABA has repeatedly been accused of bias against right-leaning judges and has undoubtedly promoted left-wing causes related to gun control, affirmative action, and voting rights (see links here, here, here, and here for more info). Thus, contrary to Ruhle and Miller’s assumptions, the ABA is not some undisputed gold standard of non-partisan evaluation of the qualifications of judges.

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Ruhle closed out the segment by returning to her theme about too many judges being “white men,” and Miller supported her point:

RUHLE: [T]o those in the administration that celebrate diversity, who continue to say that they support and champion the advancement of women in business and women entrepreneurs, how about some women on that list? Alright Matt.

MILLER: 91% white, 80% male – his appointees.

RUHLE: Come on now. And over 50% of those who graduate from law school today are women. So, I didn't major in math, but that doesn't add up to me. Do better.

Does Ruhle really want recent law grads to be appointed to the judiciary just because they’re female? Or does she not realize that older, more qualified lawyers at this point in time are more likely to be men, if only for the reason that the gender makeup of law schools thirty or forty years ago was heavily weighted towards male students (according to the ABA)?

Oh well, so much for actually being concerned about whether or not judges are qualified.

See the full transcript of the segment below:

9:50 AM EST

STEPHANIE RUHLE: Happening right now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions arriving on Capitol Hill. He’s set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, expected to answer questions on several different topics. And we’re going to bring you his testimony live when it begins.

Now I gotta talk about something that’s blowing my mind – the growing controversy surrounding President Trump's pick to be a lifetime federal judge in the state of Alabama. Alabama getting a lot of play in the national news these days. The New York Times was first to report -- are you ready for this? 36 year-old Brett Talley failed to disclose that his wife works as a top White House lawyer and has already been interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller. Talley has also been criticized on his qualifications. He's never tried a case and he was given a rare “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Association. I gotta bring in Washington Post columnist and MSNBC contributor Matt Miller back into this conversation. Okie-doke, Matt. I'm a mere civilian, but for me, the official congressional documents that Talley was asked to list family members that were, quote, “likely to present potential conflicts of interest.” He mentioned no one. He did not mention that his wife is Don McGahn's number two. You remember Don McGahn, the top White House lawyer, the one guy who knew President Trump was firing James Comey, or one of the few who did. I mean, hello!?

MATT MILLER [WASHINGTON POST, COLUMNIST]: Yeah, it is inexplicable, Stephanie. It is an obvious conflict of interest. It’s the kind of thing that needs to be disclosed. And the thing that’s so hard to understand about it – it’s not a secret. This was obviously gonna come out. I don't know why this nominee thought that he would somehow sneak by without disclosing this. But, in fact, he did make it through committee. I guess it was that only until after the committee vote we found this out. This is -- you know, it is a pattern of behavior from Trump administration officials where they fail to disclose things on these forms. They only come out later when the press finds out. And it is a, you know, it is yet another mark against this judge who is, you know, let's remember, one of four judicial nominees that the President has nominated who are act- -- have actually been found to be unqualified by the ABA.

RUHLE: I’d like to point out how an overwhelming majority all seem to be white men. I want to ask you, though, from my perspective, gosh, this seems like a huge conflict, but is it? Play devil's advocate for a moment, here. If it is known, if anybody could know that his wife is a top White House lawyer, Bob Mueller interviewed her, could someone say: This is business as usual?

MILLER: It's a conflict of interest for sure, but every judge has potential conflicts of interest when they join the bench. It’s not the conflict itself that’s actually the problem. Judges, you know, all the time find themselves having to recuse themselves from cases because they have a family member who is involved, they have a former bus-, you know, a former place that they worked that is a party to the case. So it’s not so much the conflict of interest that’s a problem, it’s the fact that he tried to hide that conflict of interest from the Senate and from the public. That's where we come to a problem. This was a conflict -- there is a, there is a proc-, there is a way for nominees and judges once they’re appointed, once they’re confirmed, to deal with conflicts of interest by recusing themselves. But that can only work if people know what those conflicts of interest are. If you try to hide them,-

RUHLE: [interjecting] But [stops].

MILLER: -then it raises the question of whether you don't plan to recuse yourself down the road.

RUHLE: That's the issue that continues to plague this administration – transparency. Just come out with it from the get-go. I want to share, though, the White House's defense. I mentioned it earlier, the American Bar Association gave him the very rare rating of “not qualified.” I said it earlier, he's never tried a case. But the White House says, quote, “Mr. Talley served as deputy solicitor general for the state of Alabama, currently serves in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy and was recommended by Alabama's U.S. senators. He is more than qualified to serve in the federal judiciary.” What’s your take on their response?

MILLER: Um, they're right, he's had a couple of significant jobs, but these federal judicial positions are the most important positions in the American judi-, you know, in the American court system, right? These deal with some of the most difficult questions we face. And he just doesn't have the experience you would like to see from a -- for a nominee for that position. As I said, he is not the only one. There have been four nominees rated by the American Bar Association, which again, is not a partisan organization. This is an independent, credible third-party that rates nominees, finds whether they’re qualified or not. They’ve looked at his entire record, and they compare it not just -- you know, not -- it’s not just a blank canvas. They look at the other, you know, other nominees over time who have been appointed to these court positions and they found that in the balance, he just doesn't measure up.

RUHLE: Alright. And to those in the administration that celebrate diversity, who continue to say that they support and champion the advancement of women in business and women entrepreneurs, how about some women on that list? Alright Matt.

MILLER: 91% white, 80% male – his appointees.

RUHLE: Come on now. And over 50% of those who graduate from law school today are women. So, I didn't major in math, but that doesn't add up to me. Do better.

(...)


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