Republicans raise concerns over Biden's nominee for ambassador to Germany

Republican Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioWisconsinites need infrastructure that is built to last  Republicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall Rubio: Dropping FARC from terrorist list threatens Colombians, US security MORE (Fla.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonWisconsin senators ask outsiders not to exploit parade attack 'for their own political purposes' It's time to bury ZombieCare once and for all Marjorie Taylor Greene introduces bill to award Congressional Gold Medal to Rittenhouse MORE (Wis.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table Senate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo On The Money — Biden stresses calm amid omicron fears MORE (Texas) are raising concerns about President BidenJoe BidenDearborn office of Rep. Debbie Dingell vandalized Pfizer to apply for COVID-19 booster approval for 16- and 17-year-olds: report Coronavirus variant raises fresh concerns for economy MORE's nomination of Amy Gutmann to serve as U.S. ambassador to Germany.

In a letter to Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezFive ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan Spending bill faces Senate scramble Republicans raise concerns over Biden's nominee for ambassador to Germany MORE (D-N.J.) and Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho), Rubio, Johnson and Cruz said they are “deeply concerned” that Gutmann’s nomination was part of a “quid pro quo”

The Republican senators raised concerns relating to Biden’s appointment as the University of Pennsylvania’s Benjamin Franklin Presidential Professor of Practice during Gutmann's tenure as president of the university. He was nominated to the role in 2017, after serving eight years as vice president, and left it in 2021.

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“It appears that President Biden could be rewarding a friend who previously provided him with more than $900,000 for what seems to have been a no-show job as the Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor at the University of Pennsylvania,” the senators wrote.

Deputy White House press secretary Andrew Bates told The Hill in a statement that senators' claims are "based on a stale, boring, and long debunked conspiracy theory."

"As a leader who is respected around the world — and the daughter of Jewish German refugees — Dr. Gutmann is an extraordinarily qualified nominee to be the United States’ Ambassador to Germany. The President is very proud to have named her," Bates said in his statement. "He puts absolutely no stock in performative complaints meant as grist for outlets like Gateway Pundit made by individuals who gave a pass to the most egregious ethical abuses in the history of the American presidency." 

The White House announced Gutmann’s nomination in late July, as Biden's first ambassadorship nomination to a Group of Seven country. If confirmed, she would be the first woman to serve in the role.

Gutmann is an expert in political philosophy who has served as the University of Pennsylvania’s president since 2004. She previously worked as a provost and faculty dean at Princeton University and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

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In their letter, the senators wrote that Biden's role at the University of Pennsylvania required “no active teaching” on Biden’s part and urged the panel to press Gutmann on the part she played in recruiting Biden to the professorship, and to ask her if other honorary professors received roughly $900,000 in compensation.

 

In response to claims about Biden's appointment, the University of Pennsylvania told The Hill in a statement that  it has "many different models" of professorship. 

Biden,  who was a professor of practice, was "in fact phenomenally successful," the university said, adding that he "helped to expand the University’s global outreach, while sharing his wisdom and insights with thousands of Penn students through University-wide events, talks and classroom visits." 

The university added that the compensation the senators were referring two covers a period of more than two years.

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"Given what a person of his stature and experience could command in the marketplace, his compensation was fully appropriate, and his work for the University was of exceptional value and impact," the statement said.

The letter also points to a February 2020 report from The Philadelphia Inquirer, which alleges that Penn received at least $258 million in foreign donations from 2013 to 2019, with most of that money coming from Chinese entities.

“At minimum, it is critical to establish whether Dr. Gutmann was involved in any quid pro quo tied to Biden’s salary and whether Dr. Gutmann is compromised given the massive influx of Chinese funds into the University,” the senators said.

Regarding the foreign gifts, the university said Gutmann never solicited any gifts for "not personally involved in soliciting" any of them, adding that they were all reported to the Department of Education. 

"Under no circumstance would Penn accept any gift that would impair the right of Penn faculty to publish, that would seek any unlawful commercial benefit in return - or that might jeopardize the national security interests of the United States," Penn said. 

 

— Updated at 4:13 p.m.