We now have some data to work from regarding Senator Sinema’s voting record and it turns out she really is voting like a centrist.
That means she opposes Single Payer healthcare and Medicare for All, she voted against the Green New Deal, and has been quite slippery on Net Neutrality.
She has voted with the Trump Administration 58% of the time as of this March. Most important to my mind, however, she was just one of three Democratic Senators, including Alabama’s Doug Jones and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, to vote to confirm Bill Barr. How does Senator Sinema’s decision to be one of only three Dems to approve the appointment of Attorney General William Barr look in retrospect?
Senator Sinema explained her philosophy of voting on Presidential nominees quite clearly in this video link.
Sinema said that she has decided that no personal political views of the nominee should alone disqualify a nominee. In the case of Barr, she seems to have overlooked the “political opinion” that Barr expressed in the now-famous 19 page memo Barr wrote to audition for the job. The memo trashes the Mueller investigation as misfounded and further claims that the President essentially cannot obstruct justice, in any case. Was this memo a factor that was ignored as mere “political opinion” of the nominee? Senator Sinema should answer that question.
So that’s the data that Sinema ruled out, what did she base her evaluation upon?
Sinema wanted to focus first on whether the person is qualified for the position. Sinema blithely dismisses this point because, after all, Barr has been Attorney General once before. Yes, but look at his record of service if you are going to take legislative notice of that fact. There seems to have been no reflection on what Bill Barr actually did as AG.
Barr gave Bush cover to preemptively pardon people involved in the Iran-Contra Affair, the investigation of whom was leading to the Oval Office, shutting down a troubling investigation before it got too close to the President.
Barr unlawfully authorized illegal surveillance of American citizens in violation of their rights.
Barr produced a 10-page memo outlining a broad vision of the executive branch’s abilities to rebuff Congress’ oversight attempts.
Barr withheld from Congress a key memo that he wrote concerning the FBI’s jurisdiction to arrest foreign heads of state (used to arrest Gen. Noriega in Panama). Barr wrote a summary of principal findings of that memo that deeply mischaracterized its contents. Sound familiar?
Finally, and most important, he refused to recuse himself from the Mueller Investigation and refused to pledge to take ethics advice on said recusal. That should have been enough to earn a “No” vote from every Democrat.
Bill Barr has a demonstrated history of lying to Congress, pushing the law beyond any reasonable bounds, serving his President above his country by protecting him against uncomfortable investigations, and he specifically refused to recuse from the Mueller Investigation! Yet, Senator Sinema still found him an “qualified” nominee and voted for him.
Sinema finally claimed that whether the nominee really believes in the mission of the agency they are to lead was a vital component of her decision. As the AG oversees Justice, it is vital that they believe in seeing that the laws are faithfully executed. She seems to have based her decision on this criteria on a conversation or conversations she had with Barr in her offices.
Shouldn’t how that person actually performed in the job, having previously held it, be the best way to determine whether the nominee believes in the mission of the agency? Again, Barr acquitted himself shamefully the last time he was Attorney General. And it is implausible that Sinema did not know any of this.
Either Sinema was woefully unprepared to make this decision and was in ignorance of the facts I lay before you, or she didn’t care about those facts in making her decision to make Barr a bipartisan appointment. Either is a troubling stain on her judgment.
Perhaps Senator Sinema has gotten a bit too comfortable using confirmations as throw away bipartisan gestures that she can use to burnish her “centrist” credentials. But this one mattered, and the fact that she didn’t know, or didn’t care about all the warning signs around Barr’s nomination is unacceptable.
Do better, Senator.