Blackburn Calls Out Vanita Gupta’s Shifting Views

April 15, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) spoke on the Senate floor to express her concerns with Vanita Gupta and others whose views constantly shift to fit a narrative.

To watch Senator Blackburn’s speech, click below or here.

You can read the transcript recorded in the Congressional Records below or click here.

MRS. BLACKBURN: Madam President, I find it so interesting that my

friend and colleague across the aisle is trying to deflect questions

and concerns that we have by insinuations and some pretty disgusting

slander, and I am sorry that we have listened to that here on the floor

of this Chamber.

  Yes, indeed, I am coming to the floor today to oppose discharging

Vanita Gupta from this floor to be confirmed as the Associate Attorney

General. And, yes, I have concerns. I have had questions in committee.

  I will tell you I didn't expect to find a lot in common with her

because I have had a difficult time finding a lot in common with some

of the nominees that President Biden has sent over to us at Judiciary

Committee. But as a member of that committee, it is my responsibility

to approach each nomination with an open mind. Some I have decided were

worthy of an ``aye'' vote. There are others, like Ms. Gupta, that I

feel are not worthy of a confirmation vote.

  Over the course of the review of information--and to my friend, the

chairman of the Judiciary Committee, 11,000 pages of documents--you can

send in a million pages of documents, but if you are not answering the

question, if you are trying to circumvent the question or nuance it or

dance around it, it still doesn't answer the question. So the volume

doesn't really matter.

  What matters is someone who steps up and says: Here is my answer--

clear, concise. That is what you want, and that is what the American

people expect.

  I arrived at the opinion that, no, I didn't think she was fit to take

that No. 3 position, not because I disagreed politically but because

the answers that she gave on some specific issues--police funding, drug

legalization, qualified immunity--were so inconsistent with what she

had previously said or what she had previously written that no one can

say with any degree of certainty what she will do with the newfound

power if we decided to give that to her. No one knows what she would


  Due to the time constraints we have on the floor today, I want to go

back to the 2012 article and use that as one example. There has been

quite a bit said about that. Now, she was in the position of the ACLU's

deputy legal director. She wrote an op-ed arguing--and I quote, and we

have just heard a good bit about this--``States should decriminalize

simple possession of all drugs, particularly marijuana, and for small

amounts of other drugs.'' That is a quote.

  Speaking as a Senator representing the interests of a State

struggling to emerge from the opioid epidemic, this statement to me is

a disqualifier. It is as simple as that.

  Senator Cornyn added to that conversation with other specific items

that have transpired in her past. In her hearing, which took place in

March, Ms. Gupta almost got away with disavowing that op-ed. But when

we pressed her on it, what did she have to say? That her position had


  It seems there is an issue with some of these nominees that are

coming before us. They are going through these just in time, road to

Damascus, evolution processes. All of a sudden, they are evolving to a

position of something that they think the committee wants to hear, that

they think will help them skirt through, that they think will help them

get confirmed so that they can hold the power.

  Ms. Gupta has also evolved on criminal justice reform, on the

fundamentals for that. And as we have discussed on this floor today,

the fact checkers have had a pretty good time with that. Back in March,

the Washington Post took her to task--Senator Cornyn talked about

this--her evolving position, her shifting views on defunding the

police, decriminalization of drugs. This is the Washington Post. This

is the Washington Post that gave her the unusual upside-down Pinocchio

because she was flip-flopping and evolving at such a rapid rate, they

couldn't keep up with it.

  Madam President, everyone has the right and the opportunity to change

their mind. Absolutely, people have the right to change their mind, but

trying to follow the many changes of her mind on the issue of drug

crimes, on decriminalization, on defunding police--these are important

issues to our communities. These are not a game. These are very

important issues to the safety and security of our communities.

  The number of inconsistencies in her testimony more than test the

boundaries of understanding. Is she still evolving? Is she going to

flip-flop, as the Washington Post says, back to her previous opinions

of 2012? Is she going to flip-flop again? Would we see that in the next

11,000 pages of documents that were submitted that she has decided to

change her mind one more time? From what standard is she going to work

at the Department of Justice?

  Each of these are concerns. Each of these are reasons that my hope is

that this Chamber will refuse to discharge Vanita Gupta for a

confirmation vote.

  I yield the floor.