Senate panel approves Trump nominee (for VOA) under investigation

Source: The Hill | May 21, 2020 | Jordain Carney

Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee voted to advance President Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media.

The committee voted 12-10 along party lines to send Michael Pack’s nomination to the full Senate. 

The vote followed a roughly hourlong, at times testy, debate over Pack’s nomination, as well as a more than 20-minute closed session, where the audio feed was cut off so senators could privately discuss his nomination. 

The meeting over Pack’s nomination was expected to be contentious. He is under investigation by the D.C. attorney general’s office for potential misuse of funds from his nonprofit, the Public Media Lab. 

Democrats tried seven times during Thursday’s meeting to delay the vote on Pack’s nomination. Each was defeated on a party line vote. After the seventh, Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), the chairman of the committee, said he would not allow additional attempts to delay the vote, arguing that they had become “dilatory.”

Risch defended the decision to move forward with Pack’s nomination, saying that he would “stand down” if the U.S. attorney general or the Department of Justice requested it. 


Trump announced in 2018 that he was nominating Pack to lead the agency, which has oversight of Voice of America— a frequent target of the president’s criticism.

The delay in Pack’s nomination has frustrated the president. During a GOP lunch this week with Senate Republicans, he lamented the pace at which his nominees are being confirmed and specifically pointed to the delay in confirming Pack, who previously served as head of the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank. 

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) first disclosed last week that Pack was under investigation and that the D.C. attorney general’s office had contacted the committee for documents related to its probe.

“We are unfortunately being driven apart by your handling of the Michael Pack nomination. Under both Republicans and Democrats, this committee operated under the principle of comity,” Menendez told Risch on Thursday.

“Why are we doing this? Why are we voting on a nominee that has not been honest with the committee?” he continued. 

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) added that she was prepared to vote for Pack until the news that he was under investigation. Democrats had requested Pack to be called back before the committee a second time, but Republicans rejected that request. 


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