At least eight of Joe Biden’s nominations for the Department of Justice have been placed on hold by Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), due to the Department’s failure to answer Cotton’s questions about its inaction over the Antifa and Black Lives Matter riots of 2020.
As reported by Fox News, Cotton’s criticisms have focused specifically on the DOJ’s failure to properly defend a federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, which ended up under siege by far-left domestic terrorists on a daily basis throughout 2020 and even into 2021. Cotton has already sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland pointing out that, on top of letting the courthouse itself be attacked, the DOJ has not offered any legal assistance to several U.S. Marshals who have been sued for defending the courthouse against rioters.
“These courageous officers were attacked by left-wing street militants with weapons such as mortar fire, ball bearings, and blinding lasers,” Cotton’s letter reads in part. “A refusal to represent these Deputy Marshals would violate the Department’s long-standing practice — not to mention its moral duty — to defend law-enforcement officers when they’re sued for actions in the line of duty.”
Cotton imposed a deadline of 3:00 PM EST on Tuesday for the Department to provide him with a “satisfactory answer.” When the Department failed to respond in time, he followed through on his threat to use his role on the Senate Judiciary Committee to block multiple nominations to the DOJ. Of the eight nominees, four are U.S. attorney nominees currently waiting on full Senate votes, two are U.S. attorney nominees still waiting to be approved by the committee, and the remaining two are U.S. Marshal nominees also waiting for the committee vote. Although they cannot be delayed indefinitely by a single senator, Cotton’s actions could see these nominations delayed by weeks.
In response to Cotton’s criticisms, a DOJ spokesperson claimed that the Department already “represents or has paid for representation of over 70 federal employees who have been sued in connection with the events in Portland. Indeed, to date, the department has denied legal representation for only one federal employee in these cases.”
However, there are three U.S. Marshals who said that they have not been offered any assistance from the DOJ, thus forcing them to seek legal representation on their own.