Last Thursday, the Trump administration informed the Senate Armed Services Committee that they were officially withdrawing Retired Army Brigadier General Anthony Tata’s nomination for the Department of Defense’s Undersecretary of Defense for Policy. The decision came in the wake of revelations that Tata has a record of Islamaphobic comments and peddling conspiracy theories, including tweets that Barack Obama was a “terrorist leader.” Opposition to Tata’s nomination was bipartisan.
Never ones to let something like documented bigotry get in the way of their political agenda, members of the Trump administration have devised a workaround to put Tata into power at the Pentagon. CNN reports that the president directed his staff to maneuver Tata into a position that would not require a confirmation hearing, essentially bypassing the will of Congress in the process.
Tata has been absurdly named “the official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy reporting to the Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Dr. James Anderson.” In practice, this new position will be more or less the same as the position he was originally nominated to fill. In giving Tata this crucial job the president and his lackeys are making a mockery of Congress.
Senator Jack Reed (RI), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, slammed the Trump administration’s underhanded strategy.
“Gen. Tata should not be appointed to a Senate-confirmed position. This method of appointment is an insult to our troops, professionals at the Pentagon, the Senate, and the American people,” Reed said in a statement.
Once again, we see how little Donald Trump cares about our democratic institutions and norms. Confirmations are important processes that allow the American people, through their elected officials, to hold the White House accountable. They are meant to serve as a safeguard against unfit and unhinged nominees like Tata.
There is no reason why Trump could not have simply chosen a different nominee after Tata’s offensive comments came to light, but it’s not surprising that a president with a history of anti-Muslim remarks would side with someone like Tata. These men share a toxic worldview and neither should be pulling the levers of power. Come November, we will finally get the opportunity to restore some sanity to our federal government,
This step makes a farce of our Constitutional processes.
Secretary Esper should refuse to comply with it and members of Congress from both parties should use all available means to block Executive attempts to circumvent legitimate Congressional authority.https://t.co/svOlD9HtTq
— Jim Golby (@jimgolby) August 3, 2020
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