(The Hill) — Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday for cutting a “secret deal with the White House” on a judicial nominee.
The White House last week blamed Paul for preventing the nomination of Chad Meredith to serve in Kentucky’s Eastern District. It said that Paul had not returned a “blue slip,” a Senate term in which senators from a judicial nominee’s home state give their blessing to a nominee.
In a tweet, Paul said it was McConnell’s fault that Meredith’s nomination was foiled. He said the GOP leader had erred in pushing a secretive strategy that fell apart.
“I support Chad Meredith and supported him when he was considered for a different position. I think he would make a good judge. Unfortunately, instead of communicating and lining up support for him, Senator McConnell chose to cut a secret deal with the White House that fell apart,” Paul tweeted.
Paul and McConnell represent the same state of Kentucky and it is unusual to see one senator from a state publicly criticize another when they are also in the same party.
Meredith’s proposed nomination has been a source of controversy for the White House.
The White House was ready to nominate Meredith to a judicial position, according to an email correspondence between the White House and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) office obtained by The Hill and first reported by The Courier-Journal.
The emails indicated the White House intended to nominate Meredith on June 24 — the same day that the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion rights.
The nomination has not been made amid criticism from Kentucky Democrats and others over Meredith’s own record on abortion.
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) told the Journal that he believed the White House had been set to nominate Meredith as part of a deal cut between President Biden and McConnell to move judicial nominees through the 50-50 Senate.
A McConnell adviser said Paul had effectively blown up the deal by not returning a blue slip, though the adviser told USA Today that Paul had done the White House and Senate Democrats a political favor.
“I suspect the White House is relieved; I suspect Dick Durbin is relieved; and I suspect that the political people in the Biden team are relieved that Rand Paul blew this up,” the adviser told USA Today, noting that Paul and McConnell had worked on some nominees together during former President Trump’s time in the White House. “He did them a huge favor.”
The Hill has reached out to McConnell’s office for comment.