April 15, 2021 - Issue: Vol. 167, No. 65 — Daily Edition117th Congress (2021 - 2022) - 1st Session
Nominations of Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke (Executive Session); Congressional Record Vol. 167, No. 65
(Senate - April 15, 2021)
Text available as:
Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.
[Pages S1974-S1975] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] Nominations of Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke Mr. CRUZ. Madam President, I rise today to express concerns over two of the Democrats' nominees. There have been a number of questionable nominees put forth by this new administration, but these two nominees may be the two most radical nominees put forth. First, I would like to talk about Vanita Gupta. Today, we are set to vote on discharging Vanita Gupta's nomination out of the Judiciary Committee because Ms. Gupta could not garner a majority vote in the committee on moving her nomination forward to the full Senate. The Judiciary Committee is deadlocked and for good reason. This nominee's record is that of an extreme partisan ideologue. I can assure the American people, Ms. Gupta is not a moderate, is not mainstream but is, rather, an extreme political activist whom the Democrats want to be the No. 3 lawyer at the Department of Justice. When she testified before the Judiciary Committee last month, she consistently dodged questions. She wouldn't answer if she supported any restrictions, whatsoever, on abortion. She wouldn't answer--not partial-birth abortion, not anything. When it comes to the Second Amendment, I asked Ms. Gupta if she thought the Heller decision, the landmark decision upholding the individual right to keep and bear arms, if that decision was rightly decided. She refused to answer that question. For years, she has demonstrated a persistent hostility to religious liberty, such as when she defended the Obama administration's targeting and persecution of the Little Sisters of the Poor. Not too long ago, religious liberty was a bipartisan commitment in this body. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was introduced by then-Representative Chuck Schumer, now the Senate majority leader. It had passed the House unanimously. It passed the Senate 93 to 3 and was signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton. Sadly, today's Democratic Party has abandoned religious liberty. That is no longer a commitment. Instead, today's Democratic Party embraces extreme ideas like the Equality Act, which has just come out of the House of Representatives. It is a radical piece of legislation that, among other things, explicitly repeals major parts of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act designed to take away your religious liberty. Ms. Gupta has been a vocal defender of the misnamed Equality Act. She lobbied for its passage, a fact that she didn't disclose to the committee initially. When she was before the Judiciary Committee, I asked if she agreed with the provisions of the Equality Act that take away religious liberty protections from Americans. Again, Ms. Gupta refused to answer that question, too. Ms. Gupta has demonstrated radical hostility to school choice, so much so that when she served in the Department of Justice during the Obama-Biden administration, she helped intervene in a case trying to kill a Louisiana school choice program, even though many of the African-American parents in Louisiana strongly supported and desperately needed that program. The Federal court involved in this case even reprimanded the Department of Justice under her leadership for ineffective lawyering in this case. At the Judiciary hearing of Ms. Gupta last month, I asked if she regretted using the Department of Justice to fight against the school choice program that was providing hope and opportunity to low-income minority kids in Louisiana. Again, she refused to provide a straightforward answer. When it comes to defunding the police, it is here that Ms. Gupta is most radical. Last year, Ms. Gupta, in a written filing with this Senate, encouraged Congress to ``reexamine Federal spending priorities and shrink the footprint of the police and criminal legal system in this country.'' She also encouraged reallocating resources, writing, ``Some people call it `defunding the police,' other people call it `divest-invest,' but whatever you call it, if you care about mass incarceration, you have to care about skewed funding priorities.'' These weren't Ms. Gupta's college writings. These weren't scribblings on a Post-it she made somewhere. These statements were from last year, submitted to the U.S. Senate. And on their face and unequivocally, they advocate for defunding the police. There is no question on her record that Ms. Gupta is a hard-left partisan radical whose beliefs don't align with the majority of the American people. So why are Democrats so hell-bent on making sure she gets confirmed? Two reasons. Reason No. 1: Headlines. Democrats care so deeply about looking good in the press, they continue to press through partisan bills and partisan activists for adulation by adoring media. Reason No. 2: Today's Democrats are beholden to the far-left voices in their party, and they are fulfilling campaign promises that they made to the radical left. That is why they nominated Ms. Gupta, and that is why they broke Judiciary Committee rules to move forward her nomination. Rule 4 of the committee, preserves the right of minority members to speak before a vote. It only allows for stopping debate and bringing a matter to a vote if a majority of the committee agrees, including at least one member of the minority party. But the Democrats didn't have a majority. If they had tried to bring a matter to the vote under the rules, the vote would have failed. So, instead, Chairman Durbin unilaterally silenced and stopped a member of the committee from speaking, midsentence, and forced a vote. He did so in flatout violation of the rules, without even a pretense of a justification under the rules. The chairman knew that this was an abuse of power. Every Democrat on the committee knew it was an abuse of power. It was an abuse of power that had never been done against them when Republicans had the gavel for 6 years. [[Page S1975]] Yet today's Democrats are about power. So if the rules stand in the way, to heck with the rules. Ignore them. That is what the Senate Democrats did on the Judiciary Committee. I also want to talk about Kristen Clarke, who has been likewise nominated to a senior position at the Department of Justice. Like Ms. Gupta, Ms. Clarke's record is that of an extreme radical. Last year, she wrote an op-ed in Newsweek, entitled: ``I Prosecuted Police Killings. Defund the Police--But Be Strategic.'' In that op-ed, Ms. Clarke wrote about the protests that erupted last year and stated: Into that space has surged a unifying call from the Black Lives Matter movement: ``Defund the police.'' Now, like Ms. Gupta, she tried to run away from her record. At the prompting of Senate Democrats and at the prompting of Chairman Durbin, Ms. Clarke said: No, no, no, no, no. I don't support defunding the police. She said: You know, it was just the headline of the article. I didn't write the headline. Ms. Gupta did the same thing. Both of them were instructed by their handlers to backpedal as quickly as possible from their repeated and explicit advocacy in writing. So Ms. Clarke says she doesn't support defunding the police. Yesterday, when Ms. Clarke came before the Judiciary Committee, I asked her straightforwardly if she still thinks ``defund the police'' is a unifying call. That is what she wrote not 10 years ago, not 5 years ago but last year. She wouldn't answer the question. Instead, she just repeated her talking point: ``I do not support defunding the police.'' As I told Ms. Clarke yesterday, that claim is objectively ridiculous. She asserted she doesn't advocate cutting the funding of police, which on its face was a lie. In that same op-ed she wrote in Newsweek, there are no fewer than three separate paragraphs that begin with the following words: ``We must invest less in the police''--three paragraphs in a row. Now, when you write three paragraphs that begin with ``We must invest less in the police; we must invest less in the police; we must invest less in the police,'' you don't get to come and say: I don't support investing less in the police. That is objectively absurd, but, sadly, it is even worse. Not only is Ms. Clarke an extreme advocate for defunding the police, but she has a history of not just excusing but of celebrating murderers who have murdered police officers. It has been widely reported that, in college, Ms. Clarke helped to organize a conference with speakers who referred to convicted cop killers as ``political prisoners.'' This included Mumia Abu-Jamal, who murdered a Philadelphia police officer, and Assata Shakur, who was convicted of murdering a New Jersey State trooper, who escaped from prison, and is on the FBI's Most Wanted list. Multiple speakers at the conference thanked Ms. Clarke by name for inviting them to speak, and now the Democrats want Ms. Clarke to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. I ask you the question that I asked Ms. Clarke yesterday: What is a police officer in Philadelphia who is watching the proceedings before this body or a police officer in New Jersey who is watching C-SPAN today supposed to think about the Democrats nominating someone to a senior position at the Department of Justice, knowing that this individual participated in a conference celebrating and lionizing cop killers who murdered a Philadelphia cop and murdered a New Jersey State Trooper? How should a police officer today react to that news? There are numerous Members of this body--Senate Democrats--who, when they go home to their States, like to tell their constituents they are not all that liberal; they are really quite reasonable; they are really quite moderate. Well, the nice thing about politics is that actions speak much more loudly than words. These two nominations--Ms. Gupta's, which we have before us right now, and Ms. Clarke's, which I expect we will have before us relatively soon--are two of the most radical nominees ever to be put forward. Indeed, you could call the two of them the radical twins. They are zealots; they are ideologues; and they both are leading advocates for abolishing the police. I say to my Democratic friends: This is a 50-50 Senate. That means just one of you--just 1 out of 50--could say: OK. Enough is enough. How many Senate Democrats have gone home and said, ``I don't support abolishing the police''? Quite a few Senate Democrats, I suspect, are telling their constituents back home that they don't support abolishing the police. Today, you have a vote because I will tell you, if you as a Senator vote to confirm the radical twins, both of whom are among the leading advocates for abolishing the police, your constituents back home will know exactly where you stand on abolishing the police. You don't get to put radicals who want to abolish the police in the top positions of the Department of Justice and claim you oppose abolishing the police. President Obama nominated for a senior position in the Department of Justice another lawyer who had celebrated and defended a cop killer, who had lionized a cop killer, and this body, in one of the few instances, decided that was too much; that was too far; and they were not going to confirm that lawyer. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party has changed. The Democratic Party today is radicalized. They hate Donald Trump. Now, I understand Donald Trump is a unique character. I understand that his existence and every word he uttered enraged the Democrats, but they have emerged from 4 years of the Trump administration more radical than any majority party in this body ever has been. There are quite a few Democrats who, when they are at home, like to pretend otherwise. Today is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that the pretense is not mere empty words. In fact, if you don't support abolishing the police, then don't support abolishing the police, and if you don't support celebrating cop killers, then don't confirm people who have celebrated cop killers to senior positions in the U.S. Department of Justice. I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana ____________________