It was a rare moment in the Trump administration, and the Trump Administration, when a senior adviser to the president appeared to endorse the appointment of a judge to replace U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over a lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his associates.
But after a series of tweets from Trump’s deputy press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, on Monday morning, the appointment appeared to have fallen into the hands of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was already considering it.
The timing of the announcement came at the same time that the White House announced the appointment for a second immigration judge, to replace a judge who was fired by President Trump in February, and which also sparked controversy because of his Mexican heritage.
A Trump administration official who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity said the new appointment was not a formal announcement by Sessions.
The official said the move was “not a sign that Sessions is going to go after a judge” and that Sessions “will not be commenting on that.”
What to watch for in Trump’s judicial nominations In a statement Monday, the White Houses deputy press office said, “The president has nominated Judge Curiel to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
This appointment was made by the President and approved by the Office of the Attorney General.”
The official noted that the appointment is being considered by a bipartisan group of Senate Judiciary Committee members.
“The nominee is highly qualified, and has experience as a judge of the Southern Division of the federal court system, including presiding over several cases that resulted in the passage of important immigration reform measures,” the official said.
The decision to nominate Curiel comes just two days after the President signed an executive order that temporarily suspended the admission of immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries into the United Sates.
The order was seen by many as an attempt to keep his base happy and win them over to his vision of a wall along the southern border.
Trump’s new immigration judge is expected to replace Judge Gonzales Ramos, who left the federal bench in January, and who had ruled against the Trump travel ban.
“This is a win for the American people,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
Grassley called the appointment a “good day for immigration judges.”
“This appointment was expected, and it was confirmed,” Grassley said in a statement.
“Judge Curiel is a highly respected immigration judge with more than 30 years of experience and a long record of upholding our laws and protecting American values.
The nomination of Judge Curiolos appointment is a great victory for the court and the people of the United State of America.”
A White House official said Monday that the Trump transition team was “reviewing” Curiel’s nomination.
“We are working to secure the best person for the position for the president, and we are hopeful that the nominee will serve the American public well,” the Trump official said, adding that Sessions was expected to make his decision “very soon.”
The administration official said that Curiel had not yet made any final decisions on the nomination.
In an interview with the Washington Post last week, Curiel said he did not expect the President to move forward with the nomination “until I see the record of the person I’m choosing for a judge.”
He also told the newspaper that he did expect to hear from Sessions on Monday about his decision.
“I’ve been told that they’re going to make a decision very soon,” Curiel told the Post.
“There’s been a lot of speculation.
I’ve had people come up to me saying, ‘Don’t worry about it, you’re going in with confidence, you know you’re the guy.'”