Deborah Lipstadt confirmation vote postponed again after Senator objects

Sen. Ron Johnson asked to hold the nomination - it will be considered in the next meeting. Sen. Menendez: "You don't like a candidate? Vote against them. But this process of holding makes no sense."

Deborah Lipstadt (photo credit: Courtesy Emory University)
Deborah Lipstadt
(photo credit: Courtesy Emory University)

WASHINGTON – Senate confirmation of Deborah Lipstadt to serve as Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism has been postponed again, at the request of Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), who objects to the nomination.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted on 11 nominations at Tuesday’s meeting but postponed two other votes: Lipstadt’s nomination, and the nomination of Barbara Leaf to serve as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs.

A senator can ask to hold a nomination until the next business meeting, but once this request is put forward, other senators cannot ask again to hold the hearing. Menendez noted that the two will be considered at the next business meeting.

“At a time when the United States and its allies are working to put every conceivable pressure on Putin to stop his unprovoked brutal and illegal war against Ukraine, we have to have these nominees in place,” said Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “This game is costing us. For all of my friends who love to wave the flag of how important it is to be leading the rest of the world and how forward-looking we should be – you’re not helping the cause. You don’t like a candidate? Vote against them. But this process of just holding and holding and holding makes no sense whatsoever.”

Johnson announced his objection over a past tweet with a news story about him titled: “Senator Johnson slammed as ‘white nationalist sympathizer’ after race remarks.” Lipstadt shared the article on Twitter and added: “This is white supremacy/nationalism. Pure and simple.”

 US SEN. Ron Johnson speaks during a hearing in December. (credit: Alex Brandon/Reuters) US SEN. Ron Johnson speaks during a hearing in December. (credit: Alex Brandon/Reuters)

During her confirmation hearing last month, Johnson asked Lipstadt about it. “Why did you go on social media and level these vile and horrible charges against people, including me, that you don’t even know?”

Replied Lipstadt: “I would not do diplomacy by tweet. While I may disagree with what you said specifically, and I think that’s a legitimate difference, I certainly did not mean it, and I’m sorry if it was taken, and I’m sorry if I made it, in a way that it could be assumed to be political.”

Johnson told Lipstadt he appreciated and accepted the apology, but he would not vote for her confirmation.

“I think somebody that has had a 30-year professional career ought to know better,” Johnson said. “And when you’re being nominated and considered for confirmation to a position of diplomacy representing the United States, I certainly cannot support your nomination. I hope my other colleagues won’t either.”

Johnson’s office said that the senator “accepted Ms. Lipstadt’s apology, but explained he would not support her nomination considering it is a non-partisan position of diplomacy, and she has proven she is anything but that.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, sharply criticized Johnson. “The ego of one person is not more important than confirming the highly-qualified Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy,” he tweeted. “As Jews around the world face increasing violence and harassment, Senator Ron Johnson continues to play partisan games because his feelings got hurt. Disgraceful.”