Republicans Call for Investigation Into Newly Confirmed Vanita Gupta

Biden nominee Vanita Gupta / Getty Images
April 21, 2021

Hours before Vanita Gupta was confirmed as Joe Biden’s associate attorney general, several Republican senators urged for an investigation into her conduct during confirmation hearings.

In a letter to legal officials representing New York and the U.S. Supreme Court, Sens. John Cornyn (R., Texas), Thom Tillis (R., N.C.), and Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) called for an investigation into Gupta for lying under oath during her testimony to the Senate’s Judiciary Committee. The three Republican senators, all of whom voted against Gupta’s confirmation, say that Gupta made several false statements during her testimony.

The letter points to several statements that are contradicted by the public record. For example, she told senators that she did not support decriminalization of drugs, even though she wrote in 2012 that "states should decriminalize simple possession of all drugs," and she told senators that she opposes defunding the police, even though in 2020 she called on leaders to "decrease police budgets and the scope, role, and responsibility of police in our lives."

Gupta faced significant opposition during the confirmation fight and was ultimately confirmed by a single vote on Wednesday afternoon. Republicans say her misleading statements during the confirmation hearing made it impossible to properly judge her merits for one of the top slots at the Department of Justice.

"Ms. Gupta made a number of misrepresentations and false statements—while under oath—to the Senate Judiciary Committee," the letter states. "For us to properly vet and determine the fitness of lawyers to serve in the Department of Justice, it is imperative that nominees exhibit the utmost candor and truthfulness."

The letter further says her statements violate New York's rule of professional conduct, which states that a "lawyer shall not knowingly ... make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal."

"Sometimes doing justice calls for you—as a federal prosecutor—to disclose material facts that do not advance your own interests or a particular narrative of a case," the letter states. "Yet how can we expect her to do any of this if she simply refuses to be forthright and truthful, and downright misrepresents her record, when she comes before the Judiciary Committee under oath? The answer is, we cannot."

The Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment.