McConnell calls for withdrawal of Biden public lands nominee

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling Franken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour Woodward: Milley was 'setting in motion sensible precautions' with calls to China MORE (R-Ky.) is joining a chorus of Republicans calling on the White House to withdraw President BidenJoe BidenUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks GOP Rep. Cawthorn likens vaccine mandates to 'modern-day segregation' MORE’s pick to lead the Bureau of Land Management over a decades-old tree spiking incident. 

Tracy Stone-Manning’s nomination has drawn GOP scrutiny because of a letter she sent in 1989 threatening tree spiking. She has denied further involvement. 

“We now know that President Biden’s nominee to run the Bureau of Land Management lied to the Senate about her alleged participation in eco-terrorism,” McConnell said in a statement to The Hill, apparently referring to a Senate questionnaire in which she said she did not believe she was ever the target of a law enforcement investigation. 

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“The White House should immediately withdraw her nomination,” he added. 

McConnell’s opposition to the nominee was previously reported by E&E News on Thursday. Tree-spiking involves putting metal rods or materials into trees, which can cause injuries, to prevent logging. 

In the 1990s, Stone-Manning testified in court that she retyped and sent the tree-spiking letter after an activist told her to do so. 

She said at the time that she was unaware that the tree-spiking had occurred before she was handed the letter that she retyped, and that she ultimately decided to send it because she didn’t want anyone to be injured. 

“This letter is being sent to notify you that the Post Office Sale has been spiked heavily. The reasoning for this action is that this piece of land is very special to the earth,” the message in question said. “You bastards go in there anyway and a lot of people could get hurt.”

Stone-Manning also said in response to written questions from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that she had “no involvement in the spiking of trees.”

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She also said that she had agreed to work with authorities on the issue and that her attorney had advised her to seek immunity. 

However, committee Republicans on Thursday released a letter they said was from an investigator on the case, which alleged that a grand jury sent Stone-Manning a “target letter” indicating that she was going to be indicted but that she hired an attorney who negotiated an immunity deal. 

Earlier in the week, the panel’s 10 Republicans also asked the administration to withdraw her nomination. 

The Biden administration, meanwhile, has stuck by Stone-Manning's nomination. Asked about McConnell’s opposition, both the White House and the Interior Department referred The Hill to past statements in support of the nominee. 

“Tracy Stone-Manning is a dedicated public servant who has years of experience and a proven track record of finding solutions and common ground when it comes to our public lands and waters. She is exceptionally qualified to ... be the next Director of the Bureau of Land Management,” a White House official said in an email on Thursday. 

Alexander Bolton contributed.