Vanita Gupta has been confirmed to be Associate Attorney General by a mostly party-line vote. She remains one of the most controversial nominations made by the Biden Administration so far. Presidents are entitled to nominate qualified individuals to fill political positions, but as Republican Leader Mitch McConnell explained on the Senate floor earlier today, Gupta falls outside of the mainstream:
“Over the past few months, Senate Republicans have made clear that we believe a President is entitled to choose qualified, mainstream nominees to staff the executive branch and receive prompt and fair treatment from the Senate.
“I would say the 50 Senate Republicans have treated President Biden’s nominees more fairly than Senate Democrats treated the last president’s.
“But the nominee we’re considering this week is way outside the mainstream.
Leader McConnell continued:
“Ms. Gupta has spent her career, in large part, as an activist for left-wing causes. Her work for high-profile liberal interest groups and the Obama Justice Department have left a record of astoundingly radical positions.
“Those far-left positions were loud and proud until the prospect of this promotion seemed to change the nominee’s tune.
“Previously this nominee stated that, quote, ‘states should decriminalize simple possession of all drugs’. But now Ms. Gupta claims her position has ‘evolved’.
“At her confirmation hearing, she refused to say she’d accept any limitations on abortions, up to and including partial-birth. That puts her at odds with nearly 70% of Americans across the political spectrum.
“Recently Ms. Gupta has insisted she can be trusted to oppose efforts to defund law enforcement. But she told the Judiciary Committee just last year that state and local leaders should ‘heed calls’ from groups demanding that they ‘decrease police budgets’.
“This nomination has revealed a lengthy trail of radical claims and hasty backtracks.
Perhaps most important, Senator McConnell noted serious concerns about Gupta's temperament:
“This nominee has repeatedly amplified left-wing fearmongering toward judicial nominees and sitting federal judges. She’s levied ad hominem attacks on members of this body.
“And during the confirmation process, she employed the loosest possible interpretation of her oath to deliver honest testimony, even drawing the ire of the liberal Washington Post for transparent flip-flops and misleading Senators about her own public statements.
Leader McConnell's full remarks can be viewed in their entirety here.
Also commenting on her temperament, Senator Ted Cruz pointed out on Twitter that Gupta has not lived up to her pledge during her confirmation hearing to avoid partisan rhetoric moving forward.
During her hearing, Vanita Gupta said she regretted her “harsh rhetoric,” pledged to be “strictly nonpartisan” & said she wouldn’t engage in this rhetoric going forward.— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) April 21, 2021
She’s since liked a tweet calling @NikkiHaley a snake.
Gupta’s talk is cheap. She is a partisan ideologue. pic.twitter.com/huO0noAj63
Gupta will join Attorney General Merrick Garland at the Department of Justice (who previously declined to condemn Gupta's radical positions during his confirmation hearing). While Garland had bipartisan support, it is troubling that Gupta garnered virtually none for what should be an apolitical position.
The politicization of the Department of Justice is a concerning trend. The confirmation vote of another problematic DOJ nominee, Kristen Clarke, may be coming up soon.