McCain, Coons: Trump should withdraw controversial refugee nominee

Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainArizona race becomes Senate GOP’s ‘firewall’ Trump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Another recession could hit US in 2019, says credit union association chief MORE (R-Ariz.) and Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsJudiciary Democrat calls for additional witnesses to testify on Kavanaugh Kavanaugh allegations could be monster storm brewing for midterm elections      Sunday shows preview: White House officials on offensive in wake of anonymous NY Times op-ed MORE (D-Del.) are urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada 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 PompeoOvernight Defense: Trump identifies first soldier remains from North Korea | New cyber strategy lets US go on offense | Army chief downplays talk of 'Fort Trump' Pompeo backed continued US support in Yemen war over objections from staff: report Pompeo’s staff cracks down on ‘correct use of commas’ at State Dept 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. 

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

GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakePoll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it Ford opens door to testifying next week Police arrest nearly two dozen Kavanaugh protesters 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 GrahamKim, Moon toss ball to Trump in ‘last, best chance’ for Korean peace GOP senator: Kavanaugh accuser 'moving the goalposts' Collins: Kavanaugh accuser should 'reconsider,' testify on Monday MORE (S.C.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioNikki Haley: New York Times ‘knew the facts’ about curtains and still released story March For Our Lives founder leaves group, says he regrets trying to 'embarrass' Rubio Rubio unloads on Turkish chef for 'feasting' Venezuela's Maduro: 'I got pissed' 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.