The Senate narrowly confirmed civil rights lawyer Vanita Gupta as President Joe Biden’s associate attorney general on Wednesday.
Gupta, who will be the third-ranking official at the Department of Justice, was confirmed 51-49, with Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joining all 50 Democrats voting in favor.
“I have looked at her record, I have had an extensive sitdown with her,” Murkowski said before the vote. “I am impressed with her credentials … and the passion that she carries with her with the work that she performs.”
Gupta’s nomination advanced in the Senate earlier Tuesday over near-unanimous Republican objections.
“Unlike previous nominees that have received bipartisan support, there is not a single person on this side of the aisle that believes that Ms. Gupta is fit to serve as the third-in-command at the Department of Justice,” Texas Sen. John Cornyn said on the Senate floor, citing her “radical record” and career as a “partisan activist.”
Gupta led the Justice Department’s civil rights division under former President Barack Obama and most recently served as president of the left-leaning Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
After her confirmation hearing in March, the Senate Judiciary Committee split along party lines on advancing her nomination.
Republicans criticized tweets she had posted attacking GOP lawmakers and accused her of lying under oath about her support for decriminalizing drugs.
“I believe Ms. Gupta’s deception, her lack of remorse, her dishonesty when it comes to answering straightforward questions of the committee, disqualifies her for the office of associate attorney general,” Cornyn said.
Democrats, however, praised Gupta throughout the confirmation process, saying she was the victim of a Republican “smear campaign.”
“Vanita Gupta was completely honest and forthright,” Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said.
“Ms. Gupta, you’ve been a victim of a smear campaign, a despicable and rancid campaign to discredit you,” Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said following her confirmation hearing.
Republicans also accused Gupta of supporting the defunding of police.
Gupta denied the claims, telling Sen. Ted Cruz: “I don’t support defunding the police. I’ve been very clear about that.”
Her confirmation means she will join Attorney General Merrick Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco in the Justice Department.
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