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Sen. Cory Booker doesn't research before questioning Trump nominee, makes obvious blunder


Minimal research beforehand could have prevented this mistake

Neomi Rao (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

During a Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J) asked President Donald Trump's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals if she had ever hired LGBTQ law clerks.

She hadn't, but for a good reason.

The nominee, Neomi Rao, 45, had never been a judge before and had not ever hired any law clerks — information Booker should have known before the hearing.

What happened at the hearing?

After talking about the discrimination that members of the LGBTQ community have faced over the years in America, Booker asked Rao, "Have you ever had an LGBTQ law clerk?"

"I have not been a judge, so I don't have any law clerks," Rao informed him.

Booker tried to recover.

"Oh, I'm sorry. Working, someone working for you," he said.

"Ummm. To be honest, I don't know the sexual orientation of my staff," Rao responded. "So, you know, I take people as they come, irrespective of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation. I treat people as individuals. Those are the values I grew up with, and those are the values I would apply if confirmed."

Who is Trump's nominee?

Rao was an associate law professor at George Mason University. She also clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. When faculty at GMU protested renaming the law school after the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Rao got an endorsement for the name change from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who despite being his polar opposite politically, had considered Scalia to be a close friend.

More recently, Rao served in the Trump administration as administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the Office of Management and Budget.

During her confirmation hearings for the Court of Appeals, Rao has faced criticism for some of her writings while at Yale. Roa had said at the time that women who got drunk bore some of the responsibility if they were subsequently raped, adding "a good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober."

Even Republicans, including Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a victim of rape, were critical of this position. Ernst said that Rao's past writings gave her "pause," "not just from my personal experience, but regarding a message we are sending young women everywhere."

Rao said during the hearing that she thought that "no one should blame a victim" of sexual assault for what happened to them.

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