Associate attorney general nominee Vanita Gupta told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that she regretted having sent strident tweets attacking Republicans, seeking to convince lawmakers that the messages should not dissuade them from supporting her nomination.
Gupta, a longtime civil rights lawyer who previously led the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and most recently led the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, has come under attack from some conservatives as she vies to take over the No. 3 leadership position in the Justice Department.
The right-leaning Judicial Crisis Network is waging a nearly $2 million ad campaign to oppose her nomination, and Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), the Judiciary Committee’s highest ranking Republican, signaled early in Gupta’s confirmation hearing he was concerned about her past commentary attacking his party.
For example, Grassley alleged, Gupta had derided the Republican National Convention as three nights of “racism, xenophobia and outrageous lies.”
“While some of her career has been admirable, civil rights litigation, much of it has been strident liberal advocacy,” Grassley said.
Asked later by Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) if she wanted to respond to Grassley’s concerns, Gupta expressed remorse.
“I regret the harsh rhetoric I have used at times in the last several years,” Gupta said, adding later, “I wish I could take it back. I can’t.”
Gupta asked lawmakers to consider the totality of her career, in which she has been a “deeply pragmatic person” focused on relationship building. Despite the Judicial Crisis Network’s opposition, she enjoys the support of major law enforcement groups, and a group of prominent anti-Trump conservatives is running a $1 million campaign to back her nomination. Gupta notably told lawmakers that she did not support defunding the police and asserted that, at times during her career, she has pushed for more resources for law enforcement.
Past critical commentary on social media helped sink another Biden nominee: Neera Tanden, who withdrew from consideration to head the Office of Management and Budget after it appeared she would not be confirmed over GOP objection to her previous tweets.
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