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Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw

Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw
© Greg Nash

A group of 10 Senate Democrats are calling on President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he MORE’s controversial nominee for the Pentagon’s top policy post to withdraw from consideration ahead of his hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In a letter released Monday, the senators wrote to Anthony Tata urging him to withdraw his nomination to be under secretary of Defense for policy, as well as resign from his current post as a senior adviser to Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperThe paradox of US-India relations Overnight Defense: Trump-era land mine policy unchanged amid review | Biden spending outline coming Friday | First lady sets priorities for relaunched military families initiative Biden to keep Trump-era land mine policy in place during review MORE.

“Your record of offensive and inflammatory comments disqualifies you from serving in your current position and the position for which you have been nominated,” the Democrats wrote in the letter, dated Friday.

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The letter was organized by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats reintroduce bill to block US from using nuclear weapons first CEO who gave employees K minimum wage says revenue tripled 6 years later Forgiving K in school loans would free 36 million student borrowers from debt: data MORE (D-Mass.), a Senate Armed Services Committee member, and co-signed by fellow committee Democratic Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandIntelligence leaders warn of threats from China, domestic terrorism Jon Stewart accuses VA of being 'an obstacle' to burn pits medical care Family policy that could appeal to the right and the left MORE (N.Y.), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoAnti-Asian hate crimes bill overcomes first Senate hurdle Biden to tap Erika Moritsugu as new Asian American and Pacific Islander liaison The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - US vaccine effort takes hit with Johnson & Johnson pause MORE (Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthLawmakers demand justice for Adam Toledo: 'His hands were up. He was unarmed' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Overnight Defense: Biden officially rolls out Afghanistan withdrawal plan | Probe finds issues with DC Guard helicopter use during June protests MORE (D-Ill.).

The other signatories are Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyLobbying world Face mask PPE is everywhere now — including the ocean Green tech isn't all it's cracked up to be MORE (D-Ore.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenLawmakers struggle with Capitol security after latest attack Democrats torn on Biden's bipartisan pledge Democrats wrestle over tax hikes for infrastructure MORE (D-Md.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBig bank CEOS to testify before Congress in May Democrats get good news from IRS Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC MORE (D-Ohio), Cory BookerCory BookerProgressive lawmakers press DHS chief on immigration detention Democrats battle over best path for Puerto Rico Biden's DOJ civil rights nominee faces sharp GOP criticism MORE (D-N.J.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders: Trump was right about 'trying to end endless wars' Democrats battle over best path for Puerto Rico Bernie Sanders says he disagrees with Tlaib's call for 'no more police' MORE (I-Vt.).

The letter comes before Tata’s public confirmation hearing scheduled for Thursday. The Senate Armed Services Committee is also planning to meet behind closed doors Tuesday to discuss the nomination.

The nomination of Tata, a retired Army brigadier general most known for his frequent guest appearances on Fox News, has been a flashpoint since CNN resurfaced several inflammatory and racist tweets Tata wrote about former President Obama and other Democratic politicians.

In 2018 tweets, for example, Tata called Obama a “terrorist leader” and said Islam is “most oppressive violent religion I know of.” He also called Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersMaxine Waters cuts off Jim Jordan, Fauci sparring at hearing: 'Shut your mouth' Big bank CEOS to testify before Congress in May Maxine Waters: 'Hard to believe' officer meant to use Taser on Daunte Wright MORE (D-Calif.) a "vicious race baiting racist” and said she and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Republican proposes constitutional amendment to prevent Supreme Court expansion Business groups oppose Paycheck Fairness Act, citing concerns it could threaten bonuses and negotiating New US sanctions further chill Biden-Putin relations MORE (D-Calif.) "have always been the same violent extremists."

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Tata has since deleted many of the offensive tweets. After CNN’s reports and after several Armed Services Democrats, including committee ranking member Sen. Jack ReedJack ReedBiden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Overnight Defense: Biden nominating first female Army secretary | Israel gets tough on Iran amid nuclear talks | Army's top enlisted soldier 'very proud' of officer pepper sprayed by police On The Money: CDC extends coronavirus eviction ban through June 30 | Biden to detail infrastructure proposal Wednesday | US won't quickly lift Trump tariffs on China MORE (D-R.I.), came out in opposition to Tata’s nomination, he also penned a letter to Reed and committee Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - US vaccine effort takes hit with Johnson & Johnson pause Biden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Biden defense budget criticized by Republicans, progressives alike MORE (R-Okla.) expressing regret at the tweets and calling them an “aberration in a four decade thread of faithful public service.”

But in their letter to Tata, the Democrats wrote that “multiple past statements cannot be dismissed simply as an aberration.”

“Your letter to committee leadership appears to be a conveniently timed retraction by someone who has suddenly realized his nomination is in jeopardy,” they wrote. “No one with a record of repeated, repugnant statements like yours should be nominated to serve in a senior position of public trust at the Pentagon. Your views are wholly incompatible with the U.S. military’s values.”

Tata could be confirmed without any Democratic support as nominees only require a simple majority to be confirmed.

At least one Republican has indicated he could oppose Tata, but not over the inflammatory tweets. Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerBiden administration faces big decision on whether to wade into Dakota Access fight OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Obama marine monument designation | Interior reverses course on tribal ownership of portion of Missouri river | White House climate adviser meets with oil and gas companies Senate GOP pushes back on list of participants in oil and gas leasing forum MORE (R-N.D.) said in a statement last week he would oppose Tata unless the Pentagon changes its policy against adding the names of those who died in the 1969 USS Frank E. Evans ship collision to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.