Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., two of probably the most vocal members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, clashed Thursday over feedback Whitehouse made calling one of many judges now reviewing proceedings within the Michael Flynn case a “cartoon of a pretend decide.”

The dispute adopted a request from Flynn’s legal professionals earlier this week for an emergency writ of mandamus — an order from the next courtroom telling a decrease official the way to do their job — from the D.C. Circuit Court docket that may order District Court docket Choose Emmet Sullivan to let the Division of Justice (DOJ) drop its prosecution of Flynn, overturn a earlier order from Sullivan permitting exterior events to weigh in on the case and take Sullivan off of it.

A 3-judge panel for the circuit courtroom Thursday directed Sullivan to answer Flynn’s petition, an indication that it’s taking the request significantly, frightening Whitehouse to slam one of many Trump-appointed judges in feedback posted to Twitter.

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“The place you see [D.C. Circuit Court Judge] Neomi Rao, you’ll be able to anticipate a whole lot of Trumpy dust to observe,” Whitehouse mentioned. “She’s a cartoon of a pretend decide. Watch this area.”

Lee fired again, criticizing Whitehouse for an “advert hominem” assault on the sitting decide who Whitehouse has beforehand mentioned has an “ideology … birthed within the petri dish of the Republican company donor class.”

“Not cool, Sheldon,” mentioned the senator, who has been on President Trump’s Supreme Court docket shortlist. “Choose Rao is a gifted, hard-working authorized scholar and jurist. I do know you disagree together with her right here—and I strongly disagree with you on that time—however is it ever applicable to name a sitting jurist ‘a cartoon of a pretend decide’? I can’t consider an excellent cause. Ever.”

Lee continued: “I disagree with federal judges on a regular basis. I even categorical my disagreement. However what good comes from this type of an advert hominem assault on a person jurist, utilizing phrases like ‘cartoon’ and ‘pretend’?”

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Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, additionally on the Senate Judiciary Committee, referred to as Whitehouse’s feedback “shameful.”

“Senate Dems, uninterested in threatening Supreme Court docket Justices, flip to the courtroom of appeals for his or her partisan marketing campaign of judicial intimidation,” Cruz tweeted.

Carrie Severino, the president of the conservative Judicial Disaster Community, slammed Whitehouse for the assault on Rao, harkening again to an odd line of questioning about “boofing” Whitehouse pursued throughout Supreme Court docket Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s affirmation hearings.

“That is the man who launched ‘boofing’ into the nationwide vocabulary,” Severino wrote. “He has threatened the Supreme Court docket in an amicus transient. And now personally attacking a federal decide?”

She added: “It’s a sample of intimidation of judges. Schumer threatened two justices. Sheldon threatens to pack the courtroom and assaults one other decide. The Schumer-Sheldon assault on the judiciary is unprecedented, reprehensible, and unbecoming of a U.S. Senator and a member of the bar.”

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Rao was confirmed to her seat in March of final 12 months by a 53-46 vote within the Senate. She was sharply criticized by liberals largely for her writings as a school scholar, saying it was insensitive to sexual assault survivors, amongst different issues. Rao was beforehand a staffer within the Workplace of Administration and Finances’s Workplace of Info and Regulatory Affairs underneath the Trump administration.

Her nomination was, nevertheless, praised by conservative courtroom watchers and Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

“I’m glad @POTUS has nominated Neomi Rao to the DC Circuit Court docket Of Appeals,” McConnell mentioned in a tweet. “She has the highest score from the American Bar Affiliation, and I’m assured she shall be a good and neutral decide on this vital courtroom.”

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The DOJ’s transfer to let Flynn, who pleaded responsible to mendacity to the FBI earlier than shifting to withdraw the responsible plea, off the hook was extremely controversial. Critics mentioned the Justice Division gave the impression to be making the transfer as a result of Flynn is an ally of President Trump’s — he was the president’s first nationwide safety advisor in 2017. However Lawyer Normal William Barr defended the choice in an interview with CBS’ Catherine Herridge.

“[W]e really feel actually {that a} crime can’t be established right here as a result of there was not, in our view, a respectable investigation happening,” Barr mentioned. “They didn’t have a foundation for a counterintelligence investigation in opposition to Flynn at that stage, based mostly on a superbly respectable and applicable name he made as a member of the transition.”

Some courtroom watchers have identified that Flynn seems to have drawn a disproportionately conservative panel from the D.C. Circuit Court docket, which general has extra Democrat-appointed judges than Republican-appointed judges.

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Along with Rao, Flynn’s request for a writ of mandamus is being overseen by Choose Karen LeCraft Henderson, a George H.W. Bush appointee, and Choose Robert L. Wilkins, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama.

“Fortuitously, @GenFlynn⁩ drew an excellent panel of judges on the DC Circuit to listen to his petition for writ of mandamus,” Mike Davis, the founding father of the Article III Venture, a gaggle devoted to boosting Trump judicial nominees, mentioned in a tweet. “The adults on this federal appellate courtroom will doubtless put an finish to the political nightmare and embarrassment unnecessarily brought on by Choose Sullivan’s antics.”

Sullivan has 10 days to answer Flynn’s petition to the circuit courtroom, a time interval in which the DOJ was additionally invited to weigh in.