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Senate Judiciary Pauses Nominations for Impeachment Trial (1)

Jan. 16, 2020, 6:24 PMUpdated: Jan. 16, 2020, 10:54 PM

The Senate Judiciary Committee won’t meet until after the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump has concluded, Chairman Lindsey Graham said amid calls by Democrats to halt judicial nominations during the period.

“We’ll see you after impeachment,” Graham said Thursday before adjourning a committee meeting for several judicial nominees who included Trump’s pick for a Atlanta-based appeals court, Andrew Brasher.

It is still unclear, however, if nominees on the floor will move forward during periods when senators aren’t engaged in the trial, which is set to start on Jan. 21.

The committee has aggressively vetted and cleared Trump circuit and appeals court nominees, sending them to the floor for final consideration. Virtually all have been confirmed.

The decision to temporarily halt the committee’s meetings on judges came as dozens of liberal groups and Democratic lawmakers pressed Republicans on the issue.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a member of the Judiciary committee, voiced her concerns in a tweet on Wednesday and reiterated them at the meeting.

“The Senate should not be advancing any judicial nominees at a time when this body is considering removing from office the man who nominates them,” Harris said.

It was her first Judiciary Committee meeting since pulling out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat and Judiciary committee member, criticized the decision to hold a meeting after the articles of impeachment were walked over to the Senate on Wednesday, saying it didn’t align with precedent.

“In contrast to our meeting today, during the Clinton impeachment process, this committee did not vote on any judicial nominees or hold any judicial nomination hearing once the articles of impeachment were transmitted to the Senate,” Hirono said.

More than two dozen liberal-leaning groups signed a letter to Senate leadership requesting a pause on the nominations during impeachment trial proceedings.

Hearings and votes for the president’s judicial nominees would send a powerful signal to the American people that senators do not take the gravity of their obligation and this process seriously,” the coalition wrote.

Advocacy groups who signed the letter include People For the American Way, National Women’s Law Center, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Alliance for Justice, and the NAACP.

(Updates with comments from Sen. Mazie Hirono in the 9th and 10th paragraphs.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at malder@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com

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