Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said Monday that he is “leaning towards” supporting Vanita Gupta’s nomination for associate attorney general after Attorney General Merrick Garland vouched for her.
“I have spoken to Merrick Garland — and he is very high on her,” he said, according to the Hill pool. “And I have all the respect in the world on his decision making. I will be leaning towards because of his support.”
Locking in Manchin is crucial to Gupta’s confirmation, as Republicans have coalesced against her.
Her hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week was contentious, as Republicans brought up her old tweets criticizing members of their party and tried to paint her as a radical ideologue who supports “defunding the police.”
“The positions you have advocated for are on the extreme left and you have demonstrated an intolerance for and hostility to anyone that disagrees with the extreme left political positions,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said at the hearing.
Republicans notched a win by resurrecting a nominee’s old tweets in the defeat of Office of Management and Budget director nominee Neera Tanden. Despite the hypocrisy of their sudden concern about mean tweets after four years of supporting President Donald Trump, who remains banned from the platform for inciting violence, the Republicans got Manchin on board and sunk her nomination. They’re trotting out a similar playbook for Gupta.
Gupta said at the hearing that she “regrets” the “harsh rhetoric” she used in the past.
The GOP attempts to paint her as radical and anti-law enforcement are getting outside help, as groups including the Judicial Crisis Network have launched campaigns to paint her as extreme. In a counter-effort, a diverse group of Gupta supporters — including law enforcement leaders, civil rights activists and Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) — held a recent press call to show how broad the coalition behind Gupta is.
Then, some participants on the call pointed out a trend that has become apparent to many watching the fates of President Joe Biden’s nominees. The ones coming under the greatest scrutiny continue to be women of color.
“It’s not lost on those of us in the civil rights community whose qualifications and credibility are being questioned most in this confirmation process,” Janet Murguía, president of Latino advocacy group UnidosUS, said on that call. “There appears to be a very clear double standard for certain nominees of color.”
Unless there is an unexpected Democratic defection on Gupta, she seems to have secured the 50 votes she needs for confirmation. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) told reporters last week that he’s confident she’ll be confirmed.