- Brett Talley was nominated by President Donald Trump for a lifetime federal district judgeship in Alabama.
- He was rated as “not qualified” by the American Bar Association.
- Talley is a former ghost hunter who gained a cult following with his paranormal writings.
The 36-year-old lawyer nominated by President Donald Trump for a lifetime federal district judgeship who had never tried a case, was deemed “not qualified” by the American Bar Association, and failed to disclose that he is married to a top White House lawyer also has a history as a ghost hunter, The Daily Beast reported Tuesday.
Brett Talley, nominated by Trump to an Alabama vacancy, wrote on his questionnaire to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he was part of the Tuscaloosa Paranormal Research Group from 2009 to 2010. The group, according to its website, searches for truth “of the paranormal existence.”
Talley has also built up a “cult following” as a horror writer, having written multiple books about paranormal activities.
“I find it hilarious that no one is writing about his horror writing. He has a cult following.” Stuart Stevens, 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign manager, told The Daily Beast. “I have to say I wasn’t really aware he was a lawyer as my dealings with him were as a writer on campaign. He’s an interesting, smart guy. But so is Stephen King.”
Some of the books he’s authored include “Haunted Tuscaloosa,” “Haunted Alabama Black Belt,” and “The Reborn.”
Talley has come under fire following his approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week on a party-line vote.
In his disclosure form, Talley failed to disclose his marriage to Ann Donaldson, chief of staff to White House counsel Donald McGahn. Asked to list any family members who were “likely to present potential conflicts of interest,” Talley didn’t mention his wife.
Donaldson was recently interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators about detailed notes she kept on her conversations with McGahn, which included discussions the two had about the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, The New York Times Times reported.
Mueller’s team is investigating whether Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey. Mueller was appointed as special counsel after Trump fired Comey earlier this year. The probe into possible obstruction of justice is a part of Mueller’s wider investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Talley, a Harvard Law School graduate who serves as a deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, has also come under criticism from Democrats for never having tried a case, receiving the rare “not qualified” American Bar Association rating, and writing comments online such as “Hillary Rotten Clinton” from his now-private Twitter account.
The White House has pushed back on the “not qualified” label.
“Mr. Talley served as deputy solicitor general for the state of Alabama, currently serves in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy and was recommended by Alabama’s US senators,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement to The Times. “He is more than qualified to serve in the federal judiciary.”
Talley, one of just a small handful of judicial nominees to get the “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Association since 1989, could be confirmed by the full Senate as soon as this week.