Appellate Judges

Trump’s Judicial Nominee Didn’t Know Any Answers to Basic Questions. He’s Not Alone.

Matt Petersen is a former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) with two decades of high-level legal experience in political and administrative law – but he could not answer basic law questions.

Trump judicial nominee struggles to answer basic legal questions at hearing

LIT DISCLAIMER; He’s Not Alone in His Limited Legal Knowledge.

LIT’s video stars: Matt Peterson, (failed) Trump Judge Nominee and former Chairman of the FEC, Ben Carson, former neurosurgeon and current Secretary of HUD and Kathy Kraninger, Director of the CFPB and not smarter than a Fifth Grader.

2020 Update care of Wikipedia

Matthew Spencer Petersen (born 1970)[1] is a former member of the United States Federal Election Commission.[2] In 2017, he was nominated by President Donald Trump to be a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, but his nomination was withdrawn after receiving criticism for his poor performance during his confirmation hearing.

On August 26, 2019, Petersen announced his resignation from the FEC, effective August 31. No reason was given for the resignation.[3]

Petersen joined the law firm Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky.[4]

Trump judicial nominee struggles to answer basic legal questions at hearing

Originally Published; Dec 16, 2017;  Updated by Lit, Jan 5, 2020

A Trump judicial nominee struggled to answer basic legal questions posed to him by a Republican senator on Wednesday, including his lack of experience on trial work, the amount of depositions he’d worked on and more.

During his testimony, Matthew Spencer Petersen, who currently serves as a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, was asked a string of questions by GOP Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana about his experience on trials, including how many depositions Petersen had worked on–the answer was less than five — and the last time he had read the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure — he said he couldn’t remember.
Petersen is up for a seat on the US District Court for the District of Columbia.

During the hearing, Petersen had to acquiesce on many occasions that his “background was not in litigation,” despite the role he was up for. He added, “I understand the challenge that would be ahead of me if I were fortunate enough to become a district court judge.”

The testimony has since been widely shared on social media. Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island tweeted out a video of the incident Thursday night writing, “MUST WATCH: Republican @SenJohnKennedy asks one of @realDonaldTrump’s US District Judge nominees basic questions of law & he can’t answer a single one. Hoo-boy.

Petersen’s testimony followed the narrow confirmation of another one of the president’s judicial nominees, Leonard Steven Grasz, to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals despite the fact that he had received a “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Association.

The White House said earlier this week that it would withdraw the nomination of Brett Talley who was also unanimously rated by the ABA as “not qualified.” He was originally nominated to serve as a district judge in Alabama.

The administration is also withdrawing the name of Jeff Mateer, who was up for a seat on the district court in Texas, following comments that have surfaced where he called transgender children part of “Satan’s plan.”

Matthew Petersen’s Firm Bio


Matt Petersen is a former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) with two decades of high-level legal experience in political and administrative law. Matt—who also previously served in senior staff positions in both houses of Congress—is recognized nationally for his expertise in campaign finance, elections, lobbying, free speech, and government ethics.

Matt was nominated to the FEC by President George W. Bush in 2008 and served as its Chairman in 2010 and 2016 and its Vice Chairman in 2009, 2015, and 2019.

His FEC tenure coincided with several court cases that significantly changed campaign finance law, most notably the Supreme Court’s opinion in Citizens United v. FEC. Consequently, Matt played a large role in shaping the post-Citizens United legal framework governing Super PACs (and candidate involvement in their fundraising activities) and corporate and union political speech.

Matt was also a strong advocate for protecting the Internet as a tool for political speech and democratic participation and ensuring that emerging technologies can continue to flourish without being stymied by unnecessary regulation. Finally, Matt helped draft new procedures affording enhanced rights and protections for individuals and organizations involved in FEC enforcement matters, audits, and advisory opinion requests.

Prior to joining the FEC, Matt served as Republican chief counsel to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration (2005-08) and as counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on House Administration (2002-05).

He was extensively involved in the crafting of the Help America Vote Act of 2002—the sweeping election reform bill passed in the wake of the 2000 presidential recount—and was chief adviser to the Republican floor manager during the Senate debate on the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, the most recent comprehensive revision of federal lobbying and government ethics laws.

Matt received his J.D. in 1999 from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was a member of the Virginia Law Review, and graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in philosophy from Brigham Young University in 1996. He also received an A.S. with high honors from Utah Valley University.

(*Matthew is a member of the Bars of Utah and the District of Columbia. Matthew’s practice is limited to matters of federal law.) – LIT COMMENT, just as well he’s surrounded by legal partners and associates.

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