McCain, Coons: Trump should withdraw controversial refugee nominee

Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainControversial Trump judicial nominee withdraws Trump vows to hold second meeting with Putin Ex-Montenegro leader fires back at Trump: ‘Strangest president' in history MORE (R-Ariz.) and Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsAnti-Trump protesters hold candlelight vigil by White House Hillicon Valley: EU hits Google with record B fine | Trump tries to clarify Russia remarks | Sinclair changing deal to win over FCC | Election security bill gets traction | Robocall firm exposed voter data Overnight Defense: More Trump drama over Russia | Appeals court rules against Trump on transgender ban | Boeing wins Air Force One contract | Military parade to reportedly cost M MORE (D-Del.) are urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE to withdraw a controversial nominee for the State Department's top refugee job. 

McCain and Coons sent a letter on Tuesday to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSenate GOP attempts to wave Trump off second Putin summit Graham would consider US-Russia military coordination in Syria White House: Trump 'disagrees' with Putin's request to question Americans MORE saying they have "strong opposition" to Ronald Mortensen being the assistant secretary of State for population, refugees and migration. 

"We encourage the administration to withdraw Mr. Mortensen’s nomination to serve as Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration and to work with President Trump to nominate a qualified individual who is committed to the United States’ legacy of promoting the human rights of displaced people," the two senators wrote in the letter. 


McCain's opposition to Mortensen makes him the second Republican to oppose the Trump nominee.

GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSenate GOP attempts to wave Trump off second Putin summit Senate approves resolution warning Trump not to hand over US officials Flake: Trump's Russia summit ‘truly an Orwellian moment’ MORE (Ariz.) said late last month that he would oppose him, meaning Mortensen will not be able to be approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee or confirmed by the full Senate without help from Democrats.

Mortensen's nomination is considered controversial because of his stance on illegal immigration. He's written dozens of op-eds for publications, including The Hill, decrying illegal immigration and claiming that most immigrants in the country illegally commit crimes by using fraudulent documents in the U.S.

He's also lashed out at senators, including McCain, Flake and GOP Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Defense: Trump inviting Putin to DC | Senate to vote Monday on VA pick | Graham open to US-Russia military coordination in Syria Polling analyst: Changes to legal immigration ‘the real sticking point among Democrats’ Graham would consider US-Russia military coordination in Syria MORE (S.C.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate GOP attempts to wave Trump off second Putin summit GOP senator: We should accept Trump's 'apology' for Russian election interference comments Controversial Trump judicial nominee withdraws MORE (Fla.), whose support could be crucial if Mortensen wants to be confirmed. 

McCain and Coons added in their letter to Pompeo that Mortensen has "spread misinformation about immigrants and displayed a lack of empathy for innocent men, women, and children fleeing violence and oppression." 

"At a time when more than 65 million people are displaced worldwide, the nomination of Mr. Mortensen for this position sends a chilling message to all those around the world who look to the United States as a beacon of hope and security for persecuted peoples," they wrote.