Senate chairman schedules vote on Trump nominee under investigation

Senate chairman schedules vote on Trump nominee under investigation
© Greg Nash

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a vote this week on President TrumpDonald John TrumpSessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines Priest among those police cleared from St. John's Church patio for Trump visit Trump criticizes CNN on split-screen audio of Rose Garden address, protesters clashing with police MORE's nominee to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media, despite an ongoing investigation. 

According to a schedule released by Committee Chairman Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischHillicon Valley: Lawmakers demand answers on Chinese COVID hacks | Biden re-ups criticism of Amazon | House Dem bill seeks to limit microtargeting Senate panel approves Trump nominee under investigation Hillicon Valley: Trump threatens Michigan, Nevada over mail-in voting | Officials call for broadband expansion during pandemic | Democrats call for investigation into Uber-Grubhub deal MORE's (R-Idaho) office, the panel will vote on Michael Pack's nomination as part of a business meeting on Thursday. 

The decision to move forward with the nomination comes after Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezGovernment watchdog: 'No evidence' Pompeo violated Hatch Act with Kansas trips No time to be selling arms to the Philippines Senate panel approves Trump nominee under investigation MORE (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the committee, disclosed last week that Pack was under investigation by the D.C. attorney general's office. 

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Asked about Menendez's disclosure, Risch referred questions to the Democratic senator. But Risch confirmed to The Hill that the attorney general's office had "communicated" with him. 

"I've turned it over to counsel, we'll deal with it. But certainly that doesn't disqualify him," Risch said. 

The committee had initially been scheduled to vote on Pack's nomination last week. But Risch postponed the meeting amid multiple requests from members to hold over items on its agenda.

Menendez then disclosed 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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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. 

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

He declined to say during a White House event on Friday if he was sticking by Pack in light of the investigation. 

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

But Trump specifically pointed to Pack's nomination during a closed-door lunch on Tuesday as one he thought was moving through the Senate too slowly.