Durbin Ends Discussion on Controversial Nominee Despite Unsatisfactory Answers

Earlier today, the Senate Judiciary Committee considered the controversial nomination of Vanita Gupta to be associate attorney general. The vote on Gupta's nomination ended in a tie. As reported by CNN:

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday deadlocked in a party-line vote on the nomination of Vanita Gupta to be associate attorney general, but her confirmation is still on track with the expected support of moderate Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

The committee voted 11-11 along party lines in a tie vote Thursday, which means which means that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will have to take procedural steps to advance her nomination to the Senate floor.

Gupta's nomination is controversial for a variety of reasons. So controversial, that the Republican members of the Judiciary Committee called for a second confirmation hearing prior to voting on the nomination:

Following her contentious appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republican senators have demanded a second hearing for Vanita Gupta, President Biden’s associate attorney general nominee, citing her misleading statements to senators’ questions.

A letter signed by all eleven Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee outlined four key areas with major discrepancies in Gupta’s testimony: her support for eliminating qualified immunity, her support for decriminalizing all drugs, her support for defunding the police, and her record on the death penalty.

And as newly reported, Gupta may not even reach the threshold requirements for being a nominee in the first place:

[W]hile the letter centers on her advocacy work in public statements and Senate testimony, another area of Gupta’s advocacy raises new questions: her work as a registered lobbyist, as reported by Jerry Dunleavy in a new bombshell report in the Washington Examiner.

According to her public Open Secrets lobbying profile, as well as publicly available lobbying reports, Vanita Gupta lobbied on behalf of dark money interests at the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights on a host of issues, including: finance, government issues, health issues, housing, immigration, law enforcement and crime, labor, antitrust, workplace issues, civil rights and civil liberties, the District of Columbia, education, telecommunications, welfare, federal budget and appropriations, small business, family, abortion and adoption, and the Constitution.

Here’s where that becomes sticky for Gupta’s nomination: On January 20, President Biden issued an executive order specifically barring former lobbyists and registered agents entering government from participating in any particular matter on which they lobbied within two years of the date of their appointment. On its face, this would disqualify Gupta from working on any policy she previously lobbied for while at the dark-money funded Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Republican Senators spent most of today's Committee meeting highlighting the inconsistencies in the testimony that Gupta has provided as well as expressing concerns over whether she would be able to lead without getting too political.

The hearing abruptly ended when Senator Durbin cut off Senator Cotton and proceeded with an out of order roll call vote before everyone was given the opportunity to speak on the nomination.

As previously noted, Gupta's nomination will likely make it to the Senate floor. Republican and Democrat Senators alike should vote "no" on Vanita Gupta. Her record as a partisan activist make her ill-fitted to be third in charge at the the Department of Justice.