On Thursday, Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse shared clip of Petersen’s hearing, in which Republican Sen. John Kennedy gently asked Petersen about his experience and familiarity with legal terms...of which Petersen had none:

Kennedy: Have you ever taken a deposition by yourself?

Petersen: I believe no.

Kennedy: Have you ever argued a motion in state court?

Petersen: I have not.

Kennedy: Have you ever argued a motion in federal court?

Petersen: No.

This is pretty much how things continued for the entire five minutes. The clip garnered 8 million views, turning Petersen into another symbol of the Trump administration’s complete incompetence.


Petersen withdrew two days later, writing, “I had hoped that my nearly two decades of public service might carry more weight than my two worst moments on television. However, I am no stranger to political realities, and I do not wish to be a distraction from the important work of your Administration and the Senate.”


The Trump administration has been fast-tracking conservatives into appeal court seats, with the Senate confirming 12 judges in Trump’s first year—a modern record, according to CNN. Petersen is the third Trump nominee to withdraw during the judicial nomination process in recent weeks; Brett Talley, who was one of at least four Trump nominees considered “not qualified” by the American Bar Association (which is also a modern presidential record!), withdrew amid criticism that he failed to disclose his wife worked at the White House and blogged in support of the KKK. Mateer’s bid was squashed because he has called transgender kids a part of “Satan’s plan” and finds gay marriage “disgusting.”

I’m sure you have no trouble believing, however, that candidates less qualified than Petersen have been confirmed by the Senate: On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed former Nebraska chief deputy attorney general Leonard Steven Grasz, a man rated as unqualified by the ABA, and who considers the legacy of Roe v. Wade to be “moral bankruptcy.”