Before trip, Moon asks for court nominees nod

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Before trip, Moon asks for court nominees nod

President Moon Jae-in asked the National Assembly on Tuesday to adopt confirmation hearing reports for both of his Constitutional Court nominees, including Lee Mi-sun, who has been accused of insider trading by the conservative opposition.

The nominees’ confirmation hearings were held last week and the National Assembly had until Monday to author the reports, which is considered a parliamentary blessing for Moon’s picks. But lawmakers on the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) refused to endorse Lee and called on Moon to replace her with another candidate, taking issue with her and her husband’s stock trading.

The LKP initially intended to endorse the other candidate, Moon Hyung-bae, a senior judge on the Busan High Court, but the ruckus surrounding Lee impeded the procedure for him as well.

The LKP is accusing Lee, a senior judge on the Seoul Central District Court, and her husband, a lawyer, of illegally using information they gained from trials they participated in to make huge stock investments. The couple denied any wrongdoing, and the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and Blue House have defended them.

Yoon Do-han, Moon’s senior secretary for public affairs, told reporters Tuesday afternoon that Moon asked the National Assembly for the confirmation hearing reports before he left for his trip to three Central Asian countries at 1 p.m. that same day. President Moon is said to have asked lawmakers to send the reports by Thursday because two justices at the Constitutional Court will finish their terms that day.

Without explicitly saying that Moon will ram through the appointments, Yoon said that if the National Assembly fails to send the reports by Thursday, Moon could approve the nominations nonetheless. In that case, the new justices will begin their terms on Friday, Yoon continued.

Confirmation hearing reports are non-binding, meaning Moon can go ahead and appoint the two justice nominees even if the LKP doesn’t endorse them by Thursday. However, the LKP could use Moon’s move against the DP in future policy-making procedures at the National Assembly.

In reference to a recent Realmeter report that showed over half the public was against Lee’s appointment, a high-level Blue House official said the survey failed to reflect the “changed” social atmosphere over the past weekend because the poll was conducted on Friday.

That afternoon, the Constitutional Court announced that Lee sold all her stocks while her husband was planning to sell all of his as well, which, according to the Blue House source, swayed public opinion.

Moon has appointed a total of 13 high-level officials without parliamentary endorsement since coming into office in May 2017, including 11 minister-level officials and two justices of the Constitutional Court.

Rep. Min Kyung-wook, spokesman for the LKP, said in a statement Tuesday that the Moon Blue House ignored public sentiment by asking for Lee’s confirmation report and said it was “deplorable” that the DP and presidential office were creating distance from themselves and public sentiment. The LKP warned it was the “last chance” for the DP to change its “arrogant” attitude and urged Moon to retract his nomination of Lee.

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