In June 2017, Martha Pacold was just months into her tenure as a U.S. Treasury Department lawyer when a White House attorney called about interviewing her for a potential nomination to the federal bench.

Five days later, lawyers from the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy and the White House Counsel’s Office spoke with Pacold. They would remain in contact for months as she was reviewed by a screening committee—established by Illinois’ senators to evaluate the president’s picks for judgeships in the state—which eventually recommended her for a nomination to Chicago’s federal district court.

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