Kentucky’s two Republican senators are trading blame for blowing up the prospective nomination of an anti-abortion attorney to the federal bench, with Sen. Rand Paul accusing Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of forging a “secret deal” with the Biden administration.
“McConnell’s to blame for tanking this because he tried to do it secretly [and] Democrats caught wind up in the state,” Paul told reporters Monday about the failed drive to nominate Chad Meredith as a district court judge in the Bluegrass State.
“We never heard about it from McConnell’s office,” Paul added. “And his people simply said, ‘You can’t do this but we can.’ You know, ‘We’re so powerful, we can do whatever we want.’”
The White House dropped its plans to nominate Meredith last week, pinning the blame on Paul for declining to support him.
“In considering potential District Court nominees, the White House learned that Senator Rand Paul will not return a blue slip on Chad Meredith,” a White House spokesman said, referring to the practice of senators backing the nomination of judges from their home state. “Therefore, the White House will not nominate Mr. Meredith.”
McConnell also pointed the finger at Paul, saying his opposition was “just utterly pointless.”
“The net result of this is it has prevented me from getting my kind of judge out of a liberal Democratic president,” he told the New York Times Friday.
McConnell further insisted there “was no deal” that Paul was being left out of the loop on, saying Biden’s plan to nominate Meredith was “a personal friendship gesture.”
Democrats in Kentucky and Washington were outraged by reports that the White House planned to nominate Meredith, and their fury grew after leaked emails published by the Louisville Courier-Journal earlier this month indicated that Biden had planned to announce the nomination on June 24 — the day the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Last week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters he had asked the White House what concession McConnell had promised in exchange for Biden nominating Meredith.
“They didn’t have a specific answer,” he told Politico.
On Friday, McConnell mused to the Times that Paul may have thought it was his turn to nominate a candidate for the federal bench. But as the minority leader put it: “The president would not have been taking a recommendation from Rand Paul, I can assure you.”
McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.
Despite failing to return a blue slip for Meredith’s nomination, Paul indicated on Monday that he would have supported his confirmation.
“We have no reason to be opposed to Chad Meredith, other than we want at least the courtesy of … the minority leader thinking that he’s not so important that he doesn’t have to talk to his fellow state senator,” Paul told reporters. “The left ended up hating it, but also even his colleagues – myself – weren’t too happy about him doing it without having any discussion.”
However, one source told Politico that McConnell’s and Paul’s office had discussed the Meredith nomination.
“We’ve had conversations for months about this on the staff level,” the person told the outlet.
“Senators are together a lot, there’s no lack of access between any senators, certainly senators of the same party,” the person added. “The conservative base does not care about an inside-the-Beltway process argument. They would like a Federalist Society rock star in a lifetime judicial seat.”