Vanita Gupta’s “brief passage”

The Washington Post serves up a puff piece on Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. The byline goes to David Nakamura, but the article might just as well have been written by the DOJ communications office.

Everything you need to know about the nature of Nakamura’s story is contained in this passage:

[Sen. Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton], who had tried to block [Gupta’s] confirmation, have cited a brief passage in written testimony that Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights at the time, submitted last summer during a congressional hearing in which she voiced support for the Black Lives Matter movement’s push to “decrease police budgets and the scope, role and responsibility of police in our lives.”

Gupta did not include that passage in her oral remarks at the congressional hearing. She and [Kristen] Clarke each said at their respective Senate confirmations in the spring that they do not support defunding police.

The old “brief passage” defense. I wonder whether Nakamura would invoke it if the brief passage had called for cutting funds for education or medical research.

It doesn’t take many words to advocate cutting police budgets and reducing policing. And that’s just what Gupta did.

Should we be comforted by the fact that (1) Gupta didn’t include the brief passage in her oral remarks and (2) said she didn’t support defunding the police at her confirmation hearing? I don’t think so.

The first fact suggests that she lacked the courage to speak the controversial words contained in her written testimony. The second, to the extent it meant no funding cuts, smacks of confirmation conversion. Gupta is a weasel.

The rest of Nakamura’s article shamelessly touts Gupta’s handling of the consent decrees through which the DOJ takes substantial control over unlucky local police departments. One police chief forced to labor under a consent decree (and probably suffering from Stockholm Syndrome) and one whose department is under investigation say that Gupta listens to them.

Mighty big of her to listen to the police chiefs whose departments she’s trying to control.

Baltimore figures prominently in Nakamura’s tale of Gupta’s allegedly accommodating nature. It may be significant that it’s the current Baltimore police chief, not any of his predecessors, who provides the testimonial.

In any event, the Baltimore police department is an odd choice for a piece touting the wonder of DOJ consent decrees and Gupta’s stewardship (she was in charge of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division when the Baltimore decree was implemented). The department is in shambles. It is dangerously understaffed because officers have left the force in droves. Actual policing seems optional.

The homicide rate continues to rise. Some business owners say they will stop paying taxes to the city until the police force starts doing its job.

In big cities all over America, citizens are starting to realize that their politicians have let them down on the core issue of public safety. Democrats fear the political blowback.

That’s what Nakamura’s puff piece is really about — trying to portray Team Biden as being on the right side of this issue, notwithstanding the past and recent anti-police positions of its members.

Nakamura might be able to persuade the Washington Post’s readership, or at least the White segment of it, which, if my upscale neighborhood in the D.C. area is a reliable indicator, only recently started to suffer from a noticeable increase in crime, almost all of it nonviolent so far. But I doubt it will ring true for long with low-income inner city minority group members.

They will want to know why there isn’t more policing going on, not whether Vanita Gupta deigns to listen to the police chiefs.

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