McCain, Coons: Trump should withdraw controversial refugee nominee

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.) are urging President Trump 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 Pompeo 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 Flake (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 Graham (S.C.) and Marco Rubio (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. 

Tags Christopher Coons Donald Trump Jeff Flake John McCain Lindsey Graham Marco Rubio Mike Pompeo

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