Vanita Gupta, President Joe Biden’s nominee for associate attorney general, was confronted on Tuesday morning by Republican senators over past comments she had made about the GOP.
Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said that while Gupta has done some “admirable” things in her past, previous comments she’s made about Republicans makes him wary about giving her a critical Justice Department position.
“Her Twitter feed has painted Republicans with a broad brush, describing our national convention last year as three nights of quote-unquote ‘racism, xenophobia, and outrageous lies,'” Grassley said during his opening remarks, according to Fox News.
“How many of our colleagues in this room were there? Of course Ms. Gupta has in fact launched Twitter attacks on some of them directly,” he added. “Will that kind of partisan political advocacy affect her legal advocacy in her role where she represents all Americans?”
Grassley went on to say that Gupta has spoken out against members of the judiciary, including Supreme Court Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh. This could be a problem, since they may be handling cases she’s involved in, if she is confirmed. When given a chance got respond, Gupta tried to backtrack as best she could.
“I understand why you have them. I take them seriously,” Gupta said of Grassley’s concerns. “I regret the harsh rhetoric that I have used at times in the last several years. Perhaps, I think, the rhetoric has gotten quite harsh over the last several years and I have fallen prey to it, and I wish I could take it back. I can’t, but what I can commit to you and ask that you do is look at my lifelong record.”
She added that throughout her career she has “sought out people who don’t always think like me” and have different views in order to “build consensus to get things done.” Gupta then said that while she is a “lifelong idealistic civil rights lawyer” she is also “deeply pragmatic,” which is why she believes that she is trusted by federal law enforcement.
Gupta promised that if she is confirmed, “you won’t be hearing that kind of rhetoric from me.”
Later in today’s hearing, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) brought up Gupta refusing to accept an apology from Ryan Bounds, who had been nominated to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Gupta opposed his selection after it was revealed that Bounds had written statements in college that he later admitted were offensive. Bounds name was withdrawn after Gupta wrote that his apology was only out of “convenience,” rather than “remorse.”
“My question to you,” Lee said, “is would you stand by that? Is that something we ought to apply to all nominees? Is it something we ought to apply to you, to Merrick Garland, to all Department of Justice nominees?”
“I apologize for the kind of coarse language I have used in the past,” Gupta said, claiming that she has worked with members of different parties throughout her career. Lee fired back by saying that this was very similar to what Bounds had to say, questioning why she should be given a second chance when he wasn’t.
“I am a believer in second chances and redemption, and I would ask for that today,” she said.