Ex-Sanders aide: White House using identity politics to defend Tanden pick

Briahna Joy Gray, a former press secretary for Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money: Yellen touts 'whole-of-economy' plan to fight climate change | Senate GOP adopts symbolic earmark ban, digs in on debt limit GOP lawmaker demands review over FBI saying baseball shooting was 'suicide by cop' House Dems to unveil drug pricing measure ahead of Biden package MORE’s (I-Vt.) presidential campaign, pushed back on the White House's defense of Neera TandenNeera TandenFive ways an obscure Senate ruling could change Washington 2024 GOP White House hopefuls lead opposition to Biden Cabinet White House delays release of budget plan MORE to lead the White House budget office.

Gray said during an interview Wednesday on Hill.TV's "Rising" that the White House is advancing "the interests of a woman who … is not especially qualified for this position."

The former Sanders aide pointed to White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiHillicon Valley: Tech companies duke it out at Senate hearing | Seven House Republicans vow to reject donations from Big Tech Vaccination slowdown could threaten recovery New signs of progress emerge on police reform MORE’s Monday tweet noting that Tanden "would be 1st Asian American woman to lead" the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and “has lived experience having benefitted from a number of federal programs as a kid.”

Gray, however, said Tanden’s experience and upbringing does not necessarily mean she will defend the interests of all minority groups. 

“Her identity would be relevant if, because of her life experiences, it informed her policy preferences so that she actually had spent her life and planned to spend her future protecting the very programs that enabled her family to survive,” Gray explained. 

“However, we don’t have to speculate based on her identity what her beliefs are and what she will do, because she has a significant record of being on the record as being willing to cut the very social programs she cites as a justification for being well-suited to this position,” Gray said.

Gray, who co-hosts the “Bad Faith” podcast, called it “an incredibly cynical manipulation of people’s sincere value of identity in order to advance the interests of a woman who … is not especially qualified for this position and, in fact, might be very detrimental to the people she claims to represent.” 

The Senate Budget Committee, which Sanders leads, has postponed a scheduled business meeting to vote on Tanden's nomination amid bipartisan backlash over past combative tweets from Tanden in which she went after members of both parties.

Watch part of Gray’s interview above.