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Senate panel advances nominee on party-line vote

Washington

A divided Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed a top aide to President Donald Trump for a federal appeals court post Thursday, despite complaints from lawmakers about his refusal to answer questions about his record at the Education Department and the White House.

Steven Menashi, an associate White House counsel, was recommended, 12-10, for a seat on the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. All 12 votes in favor of Menashi were by Republicans, while all 10 Democrats voted no.

Senators from both parties complained that Menashi failed to answer questions at his nomination hearing, and Democrats said he has a troubling record on immigration, race, women’s equality and LGBTQ rights.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the panel’s top Democrat, said Menashi “has a long history of attacking those with whom he disagrees” and said his refusal to answer questions “makes it difficult for us to fulfill our constitutional role to advise and consent” on presidential nominees.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., called Menashi “a calamity” and a “wacko” and said his past writings and record as a Trump administration lawyer make him dangerously unqualified.

Democrats said they were especially unhappy about a report Wednesday night in The New York Times that Menashi played key role …read more

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