While announcing on Sunday that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed, Donald Trump took delight in inventing a detail that no other government official could back up, claiming that al-Baghdadi was “whimpering” and “crying.” While this appears to have been one of Trump’s millions of small lies, the tears and whimpers that came from a Trump nominee at a Senate confirmation hearing today were quite real.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Lawrence VanDyke, who is being considered to be a judge on the Ninth Circuit, shamelessly broke down when presented with a letter from the American Bar Association to the Senate Judiciary Committee deeming him “Not Qualified” to serve. The letter, which was based on 60 interviews with current and former colleagues, was like a powerful mirror reflecting a disappointing and disgraceful career.
The ABA found that a “substantial majority” of its Standing Committee members reached their conclusion after reviewing the interviews as well as material such as certain emails, news reports, and opinion pieces. Despite having an impressive background on paper, VanDyke was widely known to be “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules.” The letter also exposed VanDyke as conducting himself without humility but with a strong sense of entitlement, while having a lack of an open mind and an unreliable commitment to being truthful.
The one positive remark in the letter, that VanDyke “is clearly smart,” was mentioned only in the context of explaining that despite this attribute, VanDyke still managed to miss “issues fundamental to the analysis of the case” and also appeared to do a better job when he was personally or politically interested in a particular case.
Not surprisingly, when Republican Senator John Hawley questioned VanDyke today about the ABA letter, he categorized it as “full of all kinds of, frankly, hearsay” while attacking the ABA for having conflicts of interest and failing to offer due process. When Hawley brought up a part of the letter indicating that interviewees accused VanDyke of not being fair to members of the LGBTQ community, he broke down.
Through tears and whimpering, VanDyke insisted that it’s “a fundamental belief of mine that all people are created in the image of God, and they should all be treated with dignity and respect.” The scene was eerily reminiscent of Brett Kavanaugh’s disgusting confirmation hearing. Both men are highly unqualified Trump nominees who just could not bear the thought of “losing” something they claimed to be theirs. Senator Hirono’s tweet this evening summed it all up perfectly: “Lawrence VanDyke is among the worst of the worst. He’s attacked civil/human rights, opposed reproductive rights, and undermined gun safety regulations, and more. He doesn’t belong on the 9th Circuit.”