US Senator Rand Paul on Monday accused Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of making “a secret deal with the White House that fell apart”, blaming his fellow Kentucky man’s lack of communication for the failure. of a federal judicial appointment.
Further exposing the long-simmering tensions between the state’s two Republican senators, Paul commented on his own role in wrecking the nomination last week of anti-abortion lawyer Chad Meredith to serve as a federal judge in the Kentucky.
The White House abruptly dropped the nomination on Friday, underscoring resistance from Paul, who is seeking a third term in the US Senate in this year’s election.
McConnell, a key player in nominating conservatives to the federal bench during Donald Trump’s presidency, told the New York Times last week that the White House intended to follow through on its commitment to nominate Meredith until which Paul opposes.
McConnell told the newspaper that Paul’s position was “simply unnecessary”.
Paul replied on Monday that he supported Meredith and thought the conservative lawyer would make a good judge, but pointed out that process was the problem.
“Unfortunately, instead of communicating and building support for him, Senator McConnell chose to enter into a secret White House deal that fell apart,” Paul said in a statement.
McConnell insisted there was no agreement on a Meredith nomination, instead pointing to his longstanding personal relationship with Biden. In another dig at Paul, McConnell told The Times that the president “wouldn’t have taken a recommendation from Rand Paul, I can assure you.” A spokeswoman for McConnell did not immediately respond to an email late Monday seeking comment on Paul’s statement.
President Joe Biden intended to nominate Meredith to serve as a district court judge in eastern Kentucky. The plan, first revealed by The Courier Journal of Louisville, had languished for weeks. The potential nomination drew resistance from Kentucky Democrats in Washington.
Meredith, a well-known Kentucky conservative, has defended the state’s anti-abortion laws in court. He also successfully defended a state law that stripped Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear of his emergency power to implement COVID-19 restrictions.
Meredith previously served as chief assistant general counsel to former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican. Meredith then worked for Republican Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who appointed him as the Commonwealth’s first Solicitor General in 2019. He left government to join a law firm. Meredith’s father, Stephen Meredith, is a senator from Kentucky.
Meanwhile, the rift around Meredith’s nomination meltdown is the latest flare-up between McConnell and Paul, who represent different wings of the GOP.
In 2010, McConnell backed Paul’s chief rival for the GOP Senate nomination in Kentucky. Paul, of libertarian leanings, won the Senate elections, riding the tea party wave of that year. Over the years, they have settled into a working relationship, although tensions have occasionally erupted over issues such as foreign policy and spending.