July 27, 2020

Van Hollen, Warren, Colleagues Call on Anthony J. Tata to Withdraw Nomination as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and Resign from the Pentagon

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to retired Brigadier General Anthony J. Tata calling on him to withdraw his nomination to serve as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy at the Department of Defense (DoD) and resign his current position as a senior advisor to the Defense Secretary. If confirmed, Tata would become the third-highest ranking DoD official and a principal advisor to the Secretary on the Department's policies and activities. The Senators write that his record of offensive and inflammatory comments disqualifies him from his current position and the position for which he's been nominated. 

In 2018, Tata publicly made inflammatory remarks on Twitter, including that Islam is the "most oppressive violent religion I know of," and that the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement "alone is more than enough evidence of [former President Barack Obama's] drive to subvert US national interests to Islam and a globalist agenda." He called President Obama a "terrorist leader" and alleged that the former president "made no secret of his belief that a weaker America made for a stronger world." Brigadier General Tata reserved further dishonorable and disqualifying rhetoric for members of Congress as well,  claiming that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congresswoman Maxine Waters "have always been the same violent extremists" and referred to Congresswoman Waters in particular as a "vicious race baiting racist." 

"(Y)ou falsely claimed that President Obama 'is a Muslim' - repeating a claim used by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and others who attempt to incite anti-Muslim prejudice and otherize Islam by suggesting it is an inferior religion and synonymous with terrorism," wrote the lawmakers. "Anyone nominated to be a high-ranking Pentagon official must be qualified and also a person of high character whose record is consistent with the values of our country and those of the U.S. military. Nominees should see the value diversity, inclusion, and unity bring to our institutions. Unfortunately, your history of public remarks does not meet this standard," the lawmakers continued.

Tata walked back his statements, many of which he deleted, only after his nomination became public. In a recent letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman and Ranking Member, Tata reportedly referred to his offensive tweets as an "aberration in a four-decade thread of faithful public service." 

"Your letter to committee leadership appears to be a conveniently timed retraction by someone who has suddenly realized his nomination is in jeopardy. But your multiple past statements cannot be dismissed simply as an aberration. No one with a record of repeated, repugnant statements like yours should be nominated to serve in a senior position of public trust at the Pentagon. Your views are wholly incompatible with the U.S. military's values," the lawmakers wrote.

U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also signed the letter. 

The full text of the letter is available here.

Tata will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday July 30, 2020 at 9:30 am ET.