The Senate Judiciary Committee canceled votes on 21 of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees scheduled for Thursday after outgoing Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona vowed to oppose them.
Flake, who is a member of the Judiciary Committee, pledged earlier this month that he would not support any nominees going forward until his bill shielding special counsel Robert Mueller from being removed by Trump or the attorney general received a full Senate vote.
“I have informed the majority leader I will not vote to advance any of the 21 judicial nominees pending in the Judiciary Committee or vote to confirm the 32 judges awaiting confirmation on the Senate floor until … S.2644 (the ‘Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act’) is brought to the full Senate for a vote,” Flake said on the Senate floor earlier this month.
On Wednesday, Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah rose in opposition to Flake’s bill being brought to the Senate floor by unanimous consent, which would bypass the requirement for it to be scheduled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
McConnell blocked Flake’s attempt to bring his bill to a full vote earlier this month.
McConnell said that there was no need for Flake’s legislation because there was “no danger” of Trump ending the probe.
“I don’t think any legislation is necessary,” he said. “We know how the president feels about the Mueller investigation, but he’s never said he wants to shut it down.”
In light of Flake’s refusal to support Trump’s nominees, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley announced the cancellation of a meeting scheduled for Thursday during which the senators were slated to consider six nominees to the federal circuit courts and 15 federal district courts around the country.
Senate Judiciary Committee has cancelled a meeting scheduled for tomorrow to vote on a long list of federal court nominees — cancellation comes as Sen. Flake is pledging to vote no on all nominees until McConnell puts a Mueller protection bill up for a vote (HT @vanitaguptaCR) pic.twitter.com/UumiIH0sPE
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) November 28, 2018
The Judiciary Committee is made up of 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats, so Flake siding with the Democrats would mean all 21 nominees before the committee would receive negative referrals to the full Senate.
The more than 30 nominees who have already passed out of committee can be confirmed, but it would require Vice President Mike Pence to break the tie, assuming all remaining GOP senators vote to confirm and all Democratic senators and Flake vote against confirmation.
Flake joined with Democrats on Wednesday to filibuster judicial nominee Thomas Farr to serve on the federal bench for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Pence stepped in to break the 50-50 tie in the procedural vote, allowing a confirmation vote to be tentatively scheduled for next week.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tweeted in response to Flake’s stance that the senator “is a selfish narcissist who would stop one of the few things he actually could do for his country.”
Flake is a selfish narcissist who would stop one of the few things he actually could do for his country-confirm responsible judges. His hate of @realDonaldTrump exceeds his sense of duty. His proposal is unconstitutional anyway. Good riddance! Go hide in an elevator! https://t.co/tvnGrESClQ
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) November 29, 2018
Huckabee added, “His hate of @realDonaldTrump exceeds his sense of duty. His proposal is unconstitutional anyway. Good riddance! Go hide in an elevator!”