McCain, Coons: Trump should withdraw controversial refugee nominee

Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOur military shouldn't be held hostage to 'water politics' Meghan McCain blames 'toxic' hostility for 'The View' exit Beware the tea party of the left MORE (R-Ariz.) and Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' Who is afraid of the EU's carbon border adjustment plan? MORE (D-Del.) are urging President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations 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 PompeoMike PompeoWhy is Trump undermining his administration's historic China policies? Keeping the world's focus on cyber State Department watchdog probing whether Trump aides took gifts meant for foreign officials 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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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

GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donating unused campaign funds to Arizona nonprofit focused on elections: report Biden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report 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 GrahamMayorkas tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case A pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics Republicans' mantra should have been 'Stop the Spread' MORE (S.C.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRepublicans would need a promotion to be 'paper tigers' Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' 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.