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
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
I yield the floor.