Kristen Clarke, the nominee to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division, has criticized two moderate Senators whose votes she may need in order to be confirmed to office.
In early 2017, Clarke accused West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin of using “hollow words” after he honored the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Clarke was upset that Manchin, a moderate Democrat, had voted to confirm Jeff Sessions to serve as attorney general.
Clarke called Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a moderate Republican, “shameful” for voting to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Clarke, who currently serves as president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, may need the votes of both Senators in order to win confirmation to serve as assistant attorney general for the civil rights division.
Manchin has already tanked the confirmation for one of President Biden’s nominees, Neera Tanden. Manchin said last month that he would not support Tanden for director of the Office of Management and Budget because of her “overtly partisan” statements on Twitter.
Murkowski also decided she would not support Tanden’s nomination. The Daily Caller reported that Tanden, the president of the liberal think tank, the Center for American Progress, had criticized Murkowski on Twitter.
Clarke leveled her criticism against Manchin in Feb. 8, 2017 tweet, after the West Virginia Democrat voted to confirm Jeff Sessions to serve as attorney general.
Clarke referred to a previous tweet from Manchin praising Martin Luther King, Jr. as “hollow words.”
— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) February 9, 2017
Clarke took issue with Murkowski over her vote last October to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Clarke referred to Murkowski’s vote as “shameful,” and said that the Arkansas senator had “solidified her legacy.” Clarke said that Barrett would “fully reverse gains made on civil rights, women’s rights, LGTBQ rights and more.”
Shameful. Sen. @lisamurkowski has solidified her legacy with this move. An Amy Coney Barrett WILL put the #SCOTUS in position to fully reverse gains made on civil rights, women’s rights, LGTBQ rights and more. https://t.co/C59XbxIw9H
— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) October 24, 2020
Clarke has praised Murkowski at other times, including after the lawmaker issued a statement acknowledging that Joe Biden had won the election.
Sen. Murkowski has done the right thing. A dignified move. Now she should urge her other colleagues to do the same. Americans deserve a peaceful transfer of power. Enough with the frivolous lawsuits and baseless claims. https://t.co/apKwPZVMco
— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) November 10, 2020
Clarke has already proved one of Biden’s most polarizing nominees.
Clarke has also criticized police for investigating the high-profile case of Jussie Smollett, the actor who falsely claimed that he was the victim of an anti-gay, anti-black hate crime at the hands of two white Trump supporters.
Clarke jumped to Smollett’s defense after the actor reported the incident to police. Not only did Clarke fall for Smollett’s hoax, she criticized the Chicago police department early in the investigation for requesting access to Smollett’s cell phone.
She accused the police of “demonizing victims” and questioning Smollett’s story.
“This is NOT how you treat survivors of a hate crime. Stop demonizing survivors and casting doubt on their claims if you want communities to trust that you will take #HateCrime seriously,” she tweeted on Feb. 1, 2019.
The investigation ultimately revealed that Smollett had paid two friends, both of whom are black, to stage an attack against him.
Fox News has reported that Clarke has made controversial remarks about race. In 1994, while a student at Harvard, Clarke said that black people have “superior mental and physical abilities” due to higher levels of melanin. She also invited a professor to speak at the school who had written the book, “The Jewish Onslaught.”
Manchin and Murkowski have not commented on whether they support Clarke’s nomination. Requests for comment to the senators’ offices on Friday were not returned.
Clarke’s group, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, did not respond to a request for comment.