Jun 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Senate Democrats oppose Trump pick for top Pentagon policy job after Islamophobic tweets emerge

Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Multiple Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee said this week that they will oppose the nomination of retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata as the Pentagon's under secretary of defense for policy after Islamophobic and offensive tweets from him surfaced.

Why it matters: The position is the Defense Department's top policy job and third-highest role. It oversees its national security and nuclear deterrence policies — among numerous other responsibilities — and closely advises the secretary of defense on policy matters.

The state of play: Tata tweeted Islamophobic and inflammatory claims against prominent Democratic politicians, including falsely calling former President Obama a Muslim and "terrorist leader" who harmed the U.S., CNN reported last week.

  • He also falsely accused Obama of supporting Russia's election meddling efforts in 2016, saying in a tweet: "Never a doubt. Among dozens of clues, Obama supported Russian meddling in 2016 election & influenced Israeli elections to try to oust Netanyahu & help Hamas & Muslim brotherhood U.S. really did have Manchurian Candidate in White House - Washington Times."
  • He also called Islam the "most oppressive violent religion I know of."

What they're saying: Chip Unruh, the press secretary for the committee's ranking Democratic member, Sen. Jack Reed, said the Rhode Island senator will oppose Tata's appointment, Politico reports.

  • "Senator Reed's preference is to wait for the hearing process before commenting on nominees. But in this case there are real warning signs flashing and, if this nomination moves forward, Sen. Reed will oppose it," Unruh said.
  • Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) all told CNN they will oppose his nomination.
  • "An Islamophobic conspiracy theorist who called President Obama a 'terrorist leader' should not be #3 at the Pentagon," Warren told CNN. "Anthony Tata is by far Trump's most unqualified and ill-suited senior defense nominee — a high bar."

The other side: White House spokesman Judd Deere told CNN that Tata is a "distinguished public servant."

  • "His education, background, and record has earned him bipartisan praise, and this attempt by the media to slander his reputation is disgusting," Deere added.
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