President Biden Keeps Sending Unqualified Nominees To The Senate

Another Biden Nominee To The Federal Bench Couldn’t Answer A Basic Question About Federal Law While His Nominee To Lead The FAA Lacks Any Experience In Aviation Or Aviation Safety, And Could Not Answer Basic Questions About Flight And Federal Aviation Regulations


Another Biden Judicial Nominee Was Unable To Answer A Basic Question About Federal Law

“[Another] Biden federal trial court nominee was tripped up over Republican confirmation hearing questions, this time involving a senator’s inquiry about a criminal law tenet. Kato Crews, a magistrate judge in Denver who’s been selected for a district court seat there, couldn’t define a Brady motion and how to analyze it at his confirmation hearing on Wednesday. The motion, enshrined in the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Brady v. Maryland, is a request by a defendant to compel prosecutors in a criminal case to turn over potentially favorable evidence…. The question was posed by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), who’s known for quizzing judicial nominees from both parties about the law and courtroom procedure.” (“Another Biden Judicial Nominee Stumbles at Confirmation Hearing,” Bloomberg Law, 3/22/2023)

  • “Crews is the second Biden [judicial] nominee since January to stumble during Kennedy’s questioning. Charnelle Bjelkengren, selected for a seat in the Eastern District of Washington, failed to answer inquiries at her confirmation hearing about the scope of Articles V and II and a legal theory about statutory interpretation. Article V deals with amendments and Article II is about the executive branch. Bjelkengren attracted subsequent pushback from Republican senators after her slip up, and the committee has yet to vote on her nomination.” (“Another Biden Judicial Nominee Stumbles at Confirmation Hearing,” Bloomberg Law, 3/22/2023)

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): “Okay. Thank you, Judge. Tell me how you analyze a Brady motion.”
JUDGE KATO CREWS: “How I analyze a Brady motion?”
JUDGE CREWS: “Senator, in my four-and-a-half years on the bench I’m not—I don’t believe I’ve had the occasion to address a Brady motion in my career.”
SEN. KENNEDY: “Do you know what a Brady motion is?”
JUDGE CREWS: “Senator, in my time on the bench, I’ve not had occasion to address that. And so, it’s not coming to mind at the moment what a Brady motion is.”
SEN. KENNEDY: “Do you recall the U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland?”
JUDGE CREWS: “I do recall the name of the case, Senator, yes.”
SEN. KENNEDY: “And what did it hold?”
JUDGE CREWS: “I believe that the Brady case in—Well, Senator, I believe the Brady case involves something regarding the Second Amendment. It has not—I’ve not had occasion to address that. If that issue were to come before me, I would certainly analyze that Supreme Court precedent and apply it, as I would need to, to the facts in front of me.” 
SEN. KENNEDY: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman.” (U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 3/22/2023)

Stunningly, As A Magistrate Judge, Judge Crews Is Subject To, And Should Be Familiar With, A Law Congress Recently Passed Requiring Magistrate Judges To Inform Prosecutors Of Their Brady Obligations

Judge Kato Crews is currently a Magistrate Judge for the District of Colorado. (Kato Crews, Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees, Senate Judiciary Committee, 117th Congress)

A little more than 2 years ago, Congress passed a law requiring Magistrate Judges to inform prosecutors of their Brady obligations. (P.L. 116-182, 10/21/2020)

  • DUE PROCESS PROTECTIONS ACT: “In all criminal proceedings, on the first scheduled court date when both prosecutor and defense counsel are present, the judge shall issue an oral and written order to prosecution and defense counsel that confirms the disclosure obligation of the prosecutor under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) and its progeny, and the possible consequences of violating such order under applicable law.” (P.L. 116-182, 10/21/2020)


Biden’s Nominee To Lead The FAA Is A Political Donor With No Experience In Aviation Or Aviation Safety Who Does Not Know Basic Facts About Airplanes Or Federal Aviation Regulations

‘Phil Washington Is Objectively, Indisputably Unqualified To Lead The FAA’ Because ‘He Lacks Any Aviation Experience’ And ‘Was Unable To Answer Basic Aviation Questions’

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Ranking Member: Phil Washington is objectively, indisputably unqualified to lead the FAA. For two decades, he worked at mass transit agencies, where he was in charge of buses and trains, not planes…. The indisputable fact is that Mr. Washington has zero aviation experience and, in particular, zero aviation safety experience. Mr. Washington has never flown an airplane. He has never been a military pilot. He has never been a commercial airline pilot. He has never worked at an airline. He has never worked at an airline manufacturer. He has never served as an air traffic controller. He has never worked for a company that repairs airplanes.” (Sen. Cruz, Congressional Record, S.842, 3/21/2023)

  • SEN. CRUZ: “The only aviation experience that Mr. Washington has is limited, for the last 20 months, to working at the Denver airport as the CEO. However, in that job, his primary responsibility is the physical plant there. It is the airport’s shopping. It is its dining. It is its parking. It is its buildings. He doesn’t have responsibility for aviation and aviation safety. In particular, as Mr. Washington admitted at his confirmation hearing, the pilots don’t work for him, the mechanics don’t work for him, and the air traffic controllers don’t work for him. His job is not in aviation safety.” (Sen. Cruz, Congressional Record, S.842, 3/21/2023)
  • SEN. CRUZ: “Mr. Washington’s nomination hearing confirmed what is abundantly clear in his resume: that he lacks any aviation experience. At his hearing, he was unable to answer basic aviation questions, including safety questions about aircraft certification, about pilot licensing, about airports.” (Sen. Cruz, Congressional Record, S.842, 3/21/2023)

The FAA Recently Issued A Safety Alert After A String Of Near Misses, Yet President Biden’s FAA Nominee Has No Aviation Safety Experience

“The Federal Aviation Administration on [March 22nd] issued a safety alerts to airlines, pilots and others about the ‘need for continued vigilance and attention to mitigation of safety risks’ after a series of high-profile near collisions. ‘While the overall numbers do not reflect an increase in incidents and occurrences, the potential severity of these events is concerning,’ the FAA said. Six serious runway incursions have occurred since January that prompted the agency to convene a safety summit last week.” (“FAA Issues Safety Alert To Airlines, Pilots After Near-Miss Incidents,” Reuters, 3/22/2023)

  • “The F.A.A. issued the bulletin after holding a safety summit with airlines, airport operators and workers last week to address recent ‘incidents across the aviation system,’ including unruly passengers and near misses on runways at major airports…. In recent months, planes came unnervingly close on runways in New York, Texas, Boston, Hawaii, Florida and Virginia, outside Washington, D.C…. In January, a Delta Air Lines plane had to abort its takeoff after an American Airlines plane crossed about 1,000 feet in front of it at Kennedy. In February, two planes narrowly avoided a collision at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas after a FedEx cargo plane aborted its landing on the same runway that a Southwest Airlines flight had just been cleared to take off from.” (“F.A.A. Issues Safety Alert After Runway Near Misses,” The New York Times, 3/22/2023)

SEN. CRUZ: “The FAA has been in the news far too often lately, from the software meltdown of a critical safety system in January that resulted in the first U.S. ground stop of aircraft since September 11 to recent, numerous near-misses of airliners on runways. These incidents are a stark reminder of why it is essential to have an FAA Administrator with decades of deep and real aviation experience, especially experience in aviation safety. After all, the FAA’s primary mission is to keep the flying public safe. This mission is so important that Congress has explicitly mandated, by statute, that the FAA Administrator must ‘have experience in a field directly related to aviation.’ This is not a patronage job; this is an aviation safety job. And it is, frankly, irresponsible to entrust the role of protecting the lives of millions of Americans who fly in the hands of a person who needs on-the-job training. Unfortunately, that is exactly what we have with President Biden’s FAA nominee, Phil Washington. I am deeply disappointed that the Biden White House decided to treat a critical safety position as a political spoil system, to reward a political ally rather than to ensure an experienced safety professional to keep us all safe. And as a result of the Biden White House playing politics with this critically important position, the FAA has lacked a Senate-confirmed leader for a year now.” (Sen. Cruz, Congressional Record, S.841, 3/21/2023)

  • SEN. CRUZ: “Aviation is a field involving highly technical issues. To understand these issues, to lead the FAA, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration needs to have extensive knowledge, experience, and expertise in aviation. This shouldn't be a controversial statement, and, historically, the head of the FAA has had decades of real, serious experience in aviation safety.” (Sen. Cruz, Congressional Record, S.842, 3/21/2023)

Under Questioning From Sen. Ted Budd (R-NC), A Pilot, Washington Could Not Answer Seven Different Pertinent Questions About Aircraft, Aviation Safety, And Federal Regulations, Including An Elementary Question About Flight

SEN. TED BUDD (R-NC), Senate Commerce Committee Member and Pilot: “Now, you’ve been nominated to lead an agency with authority to regulate aircraft, airspace, and airmen. The US has some of the most complex airspace in the world…. Now, there’s many new regulations that the FAA has issued or is in process of developing. Here’s one, for instance: The FAA is spending billions of dollars on its next-gen program, as you’re aware, to modernize the National Airspace System. A key part of this update is moving towards GPS navigation for pilots and ATC. Now, as part of this transition, the FAA recently required airplanes to be equipped with an ADS-B transponder. So, Mr. Washington, can you quickly tell me what airspace requires an ADS-B transponder. Quickly, please.”
PHILLIP WASHINGTON: “Thank you for the question, Senator. I’m not sure I can answer that question right now.”
SEN. BUDD: “That’s okay. we’ll just keep going…. The FAA has classified airspace to meet the needs of airports, air traffic, and also national security. The FAA has also designated special use airspace over DOD bases critical to national security. So what are the six types of special use airspace that protect this national security that appear on FAA charts? Quickly, please.”
WASHINGTON: “Sorry, Senator, I cannot answer that question.”
SEN. BUDD: “Okay, we’ll just keep going. So thank you.”
SEN. BUDD: “Since World War II, the FAA has required pilots to have a valid medical certificate. I’ve got one. In recent years, the FAA has relaxed these standards through the introduction of the sport pilot certificate and also basic med. It’s been a great success. More than 70,000 pilots in the last six years have used basic med to maintain their flying privileges…. [I]t comes with some limitations. So what are the operational limitations of a pilot flying under basic med?”
WASHINGTON: “Well, thank you for the question, Senator. I’m not a pilot, so I can’t—”
SEN. BUDD: “But obviously, you’d oversee the Federal Aviation Administration. So any idea what those restrictions are under basic med, quickly?”
WASHINGTON: “Well, some of the restrictions I think would be high blood pressure. Some of them would be—”
SEN. BUDD: “It’s more like how many passengers per airplane, how many pounds in different categories and what altitude you can fly under. So and then amount of knots, it’s under 250 knots. So it’s not have it have anything to do with blood pressure. So let’s keep going here…. Stall spin accidents are a particular concern for general aviation safety advocates. Accidents involving an unintentional stall account for nearly 25 percent of fatal aviation accidents. And these happen at spins at low speed and low altitude. And they’re particularly dangerous. Can you tell me what causes an aircraft to spin or to stall?
WASHINGTON:Again, Senator—I’m not a pilot, but I would lean on our career employees and our safety folks within the FAA.”
SEN. BUDD: “Okay, let’s keep going…. So there are many questions surrounding the FAA’s aircraft certification process. Two years ago, Congress passed a major reform package to address these concerns. It’s now up to FAA implement these laws by issuing regulations and monitoring compliance. Mr. Washington, what are the three aircraft certifications FAA requires as part of the manufacturing process? Quickly, please. Re aircraft certifications?”
WASHINGTON: “Again, what I would say to that is that one of my first priorities would be to fully implement that certification act and report—”
SEN. BUDD: “You know the three types? Mr. Washington, the three types? Okay. Yeah, that’s type certificate, production certificate, airworthiness certificate. Okay. All right. Let’s just keep going and see if we can get lucky here…. [J]ust since January, the US has narrowly averted three aviation disasters. On three separate occasions airplanes came dangerously close to colliding on runways at New York JFK, Austin Bergstrom, and the Boston Logan Airport…. The FAA’s ATC procedures manual has separation standards. Now I know you run a big airport, so you probably know this one here. It’s got separation standards for planes using the same runway. So can you tell me what the minimum separation distance is for landing in departing airliners during the daytime, Mr. Washington?”
WASHINGTON:I don’t want to guess on that, Senator. But, it would be easy for me to find out.”
SEN. BUDD: “Thank you. You know the FAA is woefully behind on integrating unmanned aircraft standards, but are you familiar with the difference between part 107 and part 44809 when it comes to … unmanned drones? Are you familiar with the difference?... You know the difference between those two parts? 44809 and part 107. Do you know the difference there?”
WASHINGTON:No, I cannot spell that out for you.”
SEN. BUDD: “Yeah. Thank you. You know, the FAA can’t afford to be led by someone who needs on the job training. And for that reason I’m going to be opposing your nomination.” (U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Hearing, 3/01/2023)

General Aviation Organizations And Aviation Industry Workers And Pilots From 17 Different States Wrote To President Biden Opposing Washington’s Nomination Because He ‘Lacks Deep Aviation Experience, Particularly In Aviation Safety’ And ‘Was Unable To Answer Relatively Basic Aviation Questions’

GENERAL AVIATION ORGANIZATIONS, AVIATION INDUSTRY WORKERS, PILOTS, AND AIRPORT OFFICIALS: “We the undersigned organizations, representing aviation industry workers, pilots, airport officials, and aviation enthusiasts, write to express our opposition to the nomination of Phil Washington to be Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Mr. Washington simply is not the right person to lead the FAA at this critical juncture. In recent months, the flying public’s confidence in the aviation sector has been shaken by several alarming near-misses and FAA failures. Furthermore, the FAA must have a leader who has the experience needed to help with a looming FAA reauthorization. This is not the right time to confirm as FAA Administrator someone who lacks deep aviation experience, particularly in aviation safety, and will require on-the-job training.” (General aviation organizations, aviation industry workers, and pilots, Letter to President Biden, 3/21/2023; U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member, Press Release, 3/21/2023)

General Aviation Organizations, Pilots, And Aviation Workers From Nevada, Montana, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, New Mexico, Minnesota, Michigan, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Alaska, Iowa, Idaho, Nebraska, Arkansas, Florida, And Wyoming Signed The Letter

Letter signed by: Nevada Business Aviation Association, Arizona Pilots Association, Montana Pilots Association, New Mexico Pilots Association, Minnesota Pilots Association, Michigan Business Aviation Association, New Hampshire Pilots Association, Alaska Airmen’s Association, Iowa Aviation Association, Idaho Aviation Association, Nebraska Aviation Trades Association, Arkansas General Aviation Association, Kentucky Pilots Association, Florida Aero Club, Fairbanks General Aviation Association (Alaska), Brandywine Regional Airport (Pennsylvania), Philippi/Barbour County Regional Airport Authority (West Virginia), Million Air, Ken Moen, former Air Traffic Controller (27 years), Reno-Tahoe International Airport (Nevada), Harry Hammond, Member Services Director, Greater Flint Pilots Association (Michigan), J.T. Grainger, General Aviation Pilot (Wyoming)

Former Senior Department Of Transportation Officials Wrote That Washington ‘Lacks The Aviation Knowledge And Expertise Required To Lead The FAA’

FORMER SENIOR DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION OFFICIALS AND MEMBERS OF CONGRESS: “As former senior government officials and Members of Congress who have worked to keep our civil aviation system operating safely and efficiently, we write to express our serious concerns with your nomination of Phil Washington to serve as FAA Administrator. The FAA’s primary mission is to keep the flying public safe…. There is simply too much at stake to have the FAA Administrator trying to learn the basics of aviation on the job. Unfortunately, it is clear from Mr. Washington’s record that he lacks the aviation knowledge and expertise required to lead the FAA. Unlike the vast majority of former FAA administrators, he is not a pilot. Nor has he ever worked for an airline, for a company that builds, maintains, or repairs aircraft, as an air traffic controller, or in any position of leadership dealing significantly with aviation safety. Over the course of his nearly 47-year professional career, Mr. Washington’s only aviation-related experience consists of working for less than two years as the CEO of Denver’s airport. It is no wonder that even the New York Times has stated that he has ‘a short aviation resume.’ During his confirmation hearing, Mr. Washington repeatedly displayed his lack of aviation knowledge and expertise. Time and again, he could not answer questions about the FAA’s most basic regulations, critical safety measures, and technical operations, including questions related to his current duties as an airport director.” (Steven G. Bradbury, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Sen. Inhofe, and Attorney General Rokita, Letter to President Biden, 3/21/2023)

  • Letter signed by: former U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) General Counsel and Acting Deputy Secretary of Transportation Steven Bradbury, former DOT Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former Sen. and pilot Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Indiana Attorney General, pilot, and former Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN)

Members Of Congress Who Are Pilots Urged President Biden To Withdraw Washington’s Nomination

FOURTEEN MEMBERS OF CONGRESS WHO ARE PILOTS: “As pilots who have collectively logged tens of thousands of flight hours, including for some of us in the military, we write to urge you to withdraw the nomination of Phillip Washington to serve as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). While Mr. Washington honorably served our nation in the Army, he did not serve in an aviation unit. He is not a pilot, has zero aviation safety experience, and is entirely unqualified to lead the federal agency responsible for keeping the flying public safe…. FAA Administrators have typically had decades of aviation experience…. In stark contrast, Mr. Washington, has never flown a plane, never worked for an airline or an aircraft manufacturer, and never served as an air traffic controller…. At his recent confirmation hearing, he demonstrated how little he knows about aviation when he repeatedly failed to answer simple aviation questions, including about safety and airports. From our experience as pilots, we know the vital role the FAA Administrator plays in ensuring safe air travel for the American people. Mr. Washington is woefully unqualified to fill this role. We urge you to withdraw his nomination and select a nominee with the necessary aviation knowledge, experience, and expertise to fulfill the FAA’s important public safety mission.” (14 Pilot Members of Congress, Letter to President Biden, 3/16/2023)

  • Letter signed by: Sens. Ted Budd (R-NC) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Reps. August Pfluger (R-TX), Jake Ellzey (R-TX), Wesley Hunt (R-TX), Jack Bergman (R-MI), Mike Bost (R-IL), Scott Franklin (R-FL), Scott Perry (R-PA), Kevin Hern (R-OK), John James (R-MI), Mike Garcia (R-CA), Chris Stewart (R-UT), and Rich McCormick (R-GA)



Related Issues: Judicial Nominations, FAA, Nominations