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One of President Trump's judicial nominees has withdrawn from consideration, the White House said Monday, after a clip of him struggling to answer basic legal questions went viral last week. The development marks Trump's third failed judicial nominee, after the nominations of Brett Talley and Jeff Mateer also stalled.
Matthew Spencer Petersen, tapped by Trump to be a federal district judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, endured a brutal period of questioning by Republican Sen. John Kennedy (La.) during his Senate confirmation hearing last week — a performance that critics seized on as evidence that Petersen was unqualified for the job.
In a letter to Trump, Petersen wrote that he was withdrawing from consideration because "it has become clear to me over the past few days that my nomination has become a distraction — and that is not fair to you or your administration." In the letter, Petersen recounted his legal background; he has been a commissioner of the Federal Election Commission since 2008, including serving as that body's chairman as recently as 2016.
"I have practiced law for almost two decades — in both private practice and public service. I have worked as an attorney in both bodies of Congress," Petersen wrote. "I had hoped that my nearly two decades of public service might carry more weight than my two worst minutes on television." Read his full withdrawal letter below. Kimberly Alters