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Steven Menashi. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday voted 51-41 to confirm Steven Menashi, President Trump's nominee for a federal appeals court, despite bipartisan criticism over his record and refusal to answer questions about his tenure with the Trump administration, the Washington Post reports.

The big picture: While serving as acting general counsel under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Menashi helped craft a plan to use private Social Security earnings data to deny debt relief to people who had been scammed by for-profit colleges, according to reporting by the New York Times.

  • A federal judge ruled that the plan violated privacy laws and ordered the practice to be halted.

Senators also grilled Menashi on his controversial past writings, including a 2010 article in which he invoked "ethnonationalism" as a defense for Israel's existence as a "Jewish state" and another that accused gay rights activists of exploiting the death of Matthew Shepard, a gay student who was tortured and killed in 1998, to further their agenda.

What they're saying: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Menashi "showed a breathtaking contempt for senators on both sides of the aisle,” per the Post.

  • "You're really a smart guy but I wish you would be more forthcoming. This isn't supposed to be a game," said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) during a September hearing, per The Hill. "We're supposed to try to understand not how you're going to rule but how you're going to think."
  • "In no way does Menashi deserve this lifetime appointment," wrote Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) on Twitter. "I implore my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to listen to the red flags raised by communities and advocates across the country, do the right thing, and vote against this toxic nomination."
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, called Menashi an "impressive" nominee who earned an endorsement by the Senate Judiciary Committee "on the basis of strong academic and legal qualifications," per the Post.

Go deeper: Trump nominee Steven Menashi aided in illegal debt relief effort

Go deeper

N.Y. Times faces culture clashes as business booms

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New York Times columnist David Brooks' resignation from a paid gig at a think tank on Saturday is the latest in a flurry of scandals that America's biggest and most successful newspaper company has endured in the past year.

Driving the news: Brooks resigned from the Aspen Institute following a BuzzFeed News investigation that uncovered conflicts of interest between his reporting and money he accepted from corporate donors for a project called "Weave" that he worked on at the nonprofit.

America rebalances its post-Trump news diet

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Nearly halfway through President Biden's first 100 days, data shows that Americans are learning to wean themselves off of news — and especially politics.

Why it matters: The departure of former President Trump's once-ubiquitous presence in the news cycle has reoriented the country's attention.

2021 sees a record number of bills targeting trans youth

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Republicans in at least 25 states have introduced over 60 bills targeting transgender children — a legislative boom since January that has beaten 2020's total number of anti-trans bills.

Why it matters: LGBTQ advocates say the unprecedented push was catalyzed by backlash to Biden's election and the Supreme Court ruling that workers cannot be fired for being gay or transgender.

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