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 John TrumpUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Michael Cohen book accuses Trump of corruption, fraud Trump requests mail-in ballot for Florida congressional primary 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 Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Harris launch Trump offensive in first joint appearance Overnight Defense: Trump reportedly considering replacing Esper after election | FBI, Air Force investigating after helicopter shot at in Virginia | Watchdog says UK envoy made inappropriate comments on religion, race, sex Trump eyes replacing Esper after election: reports 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

The letter was organized by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenChris Wallace: Trump struggling with attacks on 'shape-shifter' Harris Markey riffs on JFK quote in new ad touting progressive bona fides Howard Kurtz: Kamala Harris 'getting walk on water coverage' by media after VP pick MORE (D-Mass.), a Senate Armed Services Committee member, and co-signed by fellow committee Democratic Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandIn the next relief package Congress must fund universal COVID testing Expanding our health force can save lives and create jobs simultaneously Sanders offers bill to tax billionaires' wealth gains during pandemic MORE (N.Y.), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Overnight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw MORE (Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthChris Wallace: Kamala Harris 'not far to the left despite what Republicans are gonna try to say' GOP lawmaker: 'Pretty cool' Harris has a shot at being the 'most powerful person in the world' Fox's Ari Fleischer: Harris 'not that historically exciting to African Americans' MORE (D-Ill.).

The other signatories are Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Hillicon Valley: NSA warns of new security threats | Teen accused of Twitter hack pleads not guilty | Experts warn of mail-in voting misinformation Merkley, Sanders introduce bill limiting corporate facial recognition MORE (D-Ore.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenOvernight Energy: EPA finalizes rollback of Obama-era oil and gas methane emissions standards | Democratic lawmakers ask Interior to require masks indoors at national parks | Harris climate agenda stresses need for justice EPA finalizes rollback of Obama-era oil and gas methane emissions standards Democrats unveil bill to penalize gas producers for blowouts ahead of expected Trump methane rollback MORE (D-Md.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownWhat Trump's orders will and won't do for payroll taxes, unemployment benefits Overnight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw MORE (D-Ohio), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOn The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden, Harris make first public appearance as running mates Booker hits back at Trump tweet, mocks misspelling of name MORE (D-N.J.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersChris Wallace: Trump struggling with attacks on 'shape-shifter' Harris Kamala Harris: The outreach Latinos need Biden and Harris seen as more moderate than Trump and Pence: poll 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 expresses confidence Biden will pick Black woman as VP Bill from Warren, Gillibrand and Waters would make Fed fight economic racial inequalities Waters rips Trump, GOP over mail-in ballots: 'They'll lie, cheat and steal to stay in power' MORE (D-Calif.) a "vicious race baiting racist” and said she and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSusan Collins asks postmaster general to address delays of 'critically needed mail' Trump says he'd sign bill funding USPS but won't seek changes to help mail voting On The Money: Senate leaves until September without coronavirus relief agreement | Weekly jobless claims fall below 1 million for first time since March | Trump says no Post Office funding means Democrats 'can't have universal mail-in voting' MORE (D-Calif.) "have always been the same violent extremists."

ADVERTISEMENT

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 ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedDemocrats ramp up warnings on Russian election meddling Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Overnight Defense: Embattled Pentagon policy nominee withdraws, gets appointment to deputy policy job | Marines, sailor killed in California training accident identified | Governors call for extension of funding for Guard's coronavirus response 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 InhofeLincoln Project expands GOP target list, winning Trump ire Trump's contempt for advice and consent Senate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  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 CramerDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump No signs of breakthrough for stalemated coronavirus talks State aid emerges as major hurdle to reviving COVID-19 talks 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.