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Trump declines to say if he's 'standing by' nominee under investigation

Trump declines to say if he's 'standing by' nominee under investigation
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President TrumpDonald TrumpMore than two-thirds of Americans approve of Biden's coronavirus response: poll Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor Mexico's president tests positive for COVID-19 MORE on Friday declined to say if he is sticking with his nominee to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media, after a top senator disclosed that the individual is under investigation.

Trump was asked about Michael Pack's nomination to be the chief executive officer for the agency, which oversees Voice of America, during a Rose Garden event on Friday.

"I don't know what happened. I know that Voice of America is run in a terrible manner, terrible," Trump said when asked if he was "standing by" Pack in light of the investigation.

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"We have a man who is very good. ... He's in the nominating process, but I'll have to check that out," he added.

Pack's nomination ran into new hurdles after Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden must wait weekend for State Department pick Senate presses Biden's pick for secretary of State on Iran, China, Russia and Yemen Year-end deal creates American Latino, women's history museums MORE (N.J.), the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said on Thursday that the nominee is being investigated by the District of Columbia.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was scheduled to vote on Pack's nomination as part of a business meeting on Thursday. But Sen. Jim RischJim Elroy RischBiden must wait weekend for State Department pick The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official MORE (R-Idaho), the chairman of the committee, postponed the meeting amid multiple requests from members to hold over items on its agenda.

Menendez said in a statement that the committee was informed on Thursday by the Washington, D.C., attorney general that the district was "actively investigating" Public Media Lab, a nonprofit that Pack runs, and has requested documents from the committee as part of its investigation.

"I urge Chairman Risch to hit pause on this nomination. I plan to do everything in my power to cooperate with this critical law enforcement request, and I urge Chairman Risch to do the same," Menendez said in a statement.

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A spokesperson for Risch didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday about if the GOP senator would schedule a vote on Pack's nomination while the nonprofit is being investigated.

Pack's nomination has been a source of tension on the Foreign Relations Committee.

Sen. Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsDemocrats seek answers on impact of Russian cyberattack on Justice Department, Courts Senators introduce bill to award Officer Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal Senate chaos threatens to slow Biden's agenda MORE (D-Del.), a member of the committee, noted that Menendez was making "persistent efforts" to make sure the Foreign Relations Committee gets the information it is requesting and is able to have "full and vigorous oversight hearings."

"This has been a, you know, a point of some real contention between Senators Risch and Menendez," he said.

Trump announced in June 2018 that he was nominating Pack, who previously served as head of the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank. 

Democrats on the panel sent a letter to Risch earlier this month urging him to convene another public hearing with Pack so senators could ask him questions about issues now being invested by the D.C. attorney general. They also asked for a private meeting so that committee members could discuss how to handle Pack's nomination.

"It is critical for the Committee to have all the information it needs in order to make a judgement about a nominee. We do not have that information because of Mr. Pack’s refusal to cooperate. As a result and in light of his serious background issues, he should not be considered at a business meeting at this time," they wrote