Sen. John Cornyn on Thursday slammed President Biden’s pick for the No. 3 position at the Justice Department, saying she could be “the most dangerous” nominee for the department.
The Texas Republican’s comments came at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to discuss the nominations of Lisa Monaco to be the next deputy attorney general and Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general.
Republicans made it clear they supported Ms. Monaco’s nomination, but expressed concerns about Ms. Gupta, who oversaw the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division under former President Obama.
Mr. Cornyn said Ms. Gupta gave conflicting answers when she appeared before the committee for a confirmation hearing. Some of her answers even contradicted her remarks from when she appeared before the same panel last year to discuss changes to policing in America.
At the hearing last year, Ms. Gupta suggested she supported defunding the police, saying funds should be reallocated to community programs. But when she appeared before the committee earlier this month, she explicitly stated she opposed defunding the police.
Mr. Cornyn mocked the change in viewpoints as a “confirmation conversion,” adding she said whatever she thought would get her confirmed by the committee.
“She has avoided answering questions, or as in the case of her testimony here in front of the committee, she’s completely 180 degrees — taken [a] 180-degree position different from what she has said on previous occasions [and] as recently as last summer when we had her testify before the committee,” he said.
“So I remain very concerned about this nominee,” Mr. Cornyn continued. “I think she has the potential of being the most dangerous nominee to the Department of Justice, one that needs to shun politics and ideology in favor of enforcement of rule of law on an evenhanded basis.”
Ms. Gupta’s nomination has split conservatives, with right-leaning groups spending millions to both torpedo and boost her confirmation.
Her critics assailed her Twitter posts, saying it shows that she is a far-left radical who will defund police and go soft on crime. But she also garnered endorsements from law enforcement groups, including some that twice endorsed former President Trump.
Conservative activist Grover Norquist and right-leaning columnist Bill Kristol wrote letters to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging swift confirmation.
Yet a trio of conservative advocacy groups — the Judicial Crisis Network, Heritage Action for America, and Americans for Public Trust — spearheaded a media campaign to sink her nomination.
They say she is an “extremist” liberal activist.
“I think we all have implicit bias and racial biases, yes I do,” she said.
The statement drew a strong rebuke from Mr. Cornyn, who was so taken aback, he uttered “wow” before scolding her.
“You lost me when you wanted to take the acts of a few misguided, perhaps malicious individuals and ascribe that to all Americans,” he said.
• Jeff Mordock can be reached at email@example.com.
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