Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin has come out against a controversial Obama administration judicial nominee, signaling trouble for the embattled former state legislator.
Durbin told National Journal that he will be voting against the nomination of Michael Boggs to be U.S. District Court judge in Georgia. Durbin sits on the Judiciary Committee, which will have to approve of Boggs before his nomination can head to the Senate floor.
Boggs, a former Georgia Democratic state legislator, faces liberal opposition due to his past voting record and statements on issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, and the Confederate flag. Durbin, who had questioned Boggs during a committee hearing last week, had previously said he wanted to speak with civil-rights icon and Rep. John Lewis of Georgia before making up his mind.
Lewis released a statement this week saying that he doesn’t support Boggs to serve on the federal bench. “His record is in direct opposition to everything I have stood for during my career, and his misrepresentation of that record to the committee is even more troubling,” Lewis said.
That seemed to seal the deal for Durbin. “I saw [Lewis’s] statement. I have not spoken with him personally. His statement was very clear,” Durbin told National Journal. “I said to my colleagues from Georgia, and I said publicly afterward, that I have one phone call that was critical to my decision and that was to John Lewis of Georgia. And he was opposed to Mr. Boggs and I’m going to be voting no for the reasons that he articulated.”
The nomination of Boggs to serve on the federal bench was part of a compromise deal, which includes six judicial nominees in total, put together by the White House and Georgia’s two Republican senators. In exchange for Boggs, Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss agreed to release a two-year hold on a Circuit Court nominee.
“This is a recommendation from the two senators,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said of the Georgia senators’ choice of Boggs on Tuesday. “It is our view that he is qualified for this post. His track record as a state trial and appellate court judge demonstrates that he is qualified for the federal bench, and we obviously support his nomination.”
But a growing chorus of Democrats are defying the White House on this nomination; Durbin joins Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in opposing it. Reid hasn’t committed to bringing the nomination to the floor should it clear the Judiciary Committee. But Boggs’s prospects could die there — the committee makeup of 10 Democrats and eight Republicans means at least two Democrats will need to back him in committee, along with all Republicans.
Last week, a number of Democrats on that committee expressed reservations in supporting Boggs. But one member, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, has signaled openness to supporting the nominee in committee. “I’m still listening,” Whitehouse said. “I’m a believer in the importance of the local senators’ views about their home states about district judges being respected, so it would take a pretty exceptional reason for me to violate that rule.”
What We're Following See More »
"A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 34% of registered voters think the three presidential debates would be extremely or quite important in helping them decide whom to support for president. About 11% of voters are considered 'debate persuadables'—that is, they think the debates are important and are either third-party voters or only loosely committed to either major-party candidate."
Will he or won't he? That's the question surrounding Donald Trump and his on-again, off-again threats to bring onetime Bill Clinton paramour Gennifer Flowers to the debate as his guest. An assistant to flowers initially said she'd be there, but Trump campaign chief Kellyanne Conway "said on ABC’s 'This Week' that the Trump campaign had not invited Flowers to the debate, but she didn’t rule out the possibility of Flowers being in the audience."
NBC's Lester Holt hasn't hosted the "Nightly News" since Tuesday, as he's prepped for moderating the first presidential debate tonight—and the first of his career. He's called on a host of NBC talent to help him, namely NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andy Lack; NBC News president Deborah Turness; the news division's senior vice president of editorial, Janelle Rodriguez; "Nightly News" producer Sam Singal, "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd, senior political editor Mark Murray and political editor Carrie Dann. But during the debate itself, the only person in Holt's earpiece will be longtime debate producer Marty Slutsky.
"The House passed legislation late Thursday that would prohibit the federal government from making any cash payments to Iran, in protest of President Obama's recently discovered decision to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash in January. And while the White House has said Obama would veto the bill, 16 Democrats joined with Republicans to pass the measure, 254-163."
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”