Vanita Gupta, President Joe Biden's nominee for associate attorney general, is among the Obama-era officials he has picked for his administration — and she has come under attack from the far-right Judicial Crisis Network. Washington Post opinion writer Jonathan Capehart defends Gupta in a column published this week, arguing that she should be confirmed regardless of what the JCN thinks.
"For a couple of weeks now, my morning newspaper-reading over coffee and yogurt has been interrupted by the aural pollution that is the attack ad against Gupta from the Judicial Crisis Network," Capehart explains. "As the Post's editorial board pointed out over the weekend, the Network's television ad 'is a doozy, mainly notable for the magnitude of the lies and distortions it crams into 30 seconds.'"
Under President Barack Obama, Gupta headed the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. Gupta, according to Capehart, is "more than qualified to return as the agency's third-highest-ranking official." But that hasn't stopped JCN from smearing her.
"The lies and distortions are your garden-variety right-wing hysteria seeking to paint an unabashed liberal woman of color as a danger to the rule of law and to police," Capehart writes. "The lies don't stand up to the facts. More than 50 current and retired chiefs of police and sheriffs who worked with Gupta during her last tour at the Justice Department sent a letter of support to the Senate Judiciary Committee. So did the National Fraternal Order of Police, whose president noted the organization's working relationship with Gupta goes back to 2014."
Capehart continues, "And before that, as a lawyer with the ACLU, Gupta worked on cash bail reform, fair sentencing and other criminal justice reform issues with Koch Industries. Mark Holden, the firm's former general counsel and senior vice president, sent in a letter of support for her nomination."
Koch Industries is headed by 85-year-old billionaire CEO Charles Koch, who has been a major supporter of right-wing causes and has been a registered Libertarian. The fact that Gupta was willing to work with Koch Industries, Capehart writes, underscores her ability to "reach across the ideological divide."
If confirmed, Gupta will be working closely with Judge Merrick Garland, Biden's pick for U.S. attorney general — and Capehart is hoping that despite the JCN smear, she will be confirmed.
"Gupta and Lisa Monaco, nominated to be deputy attorney general, will both appear for their confirmation hearings on March 9," Capehart explains. "Both deserve to be confirmed. But Gupta ought to sail through the Judiciary Committee with the same ease that Garland did."
When Garland was challenged during his confirmation hearing by GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah for his support of Gupta and another nominee Republicans have criticized, the attorney general nominee was unequivocal: "I have complete faith in them."