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Ex-nominee for top Pentagon job is appointed to another role

Anthony Tata's confirmation hearing was abruptly canceled last week as it became clear he might not have the votes to make it through committee.
Image:
U.S. Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, right, at a news conference in 2006 in Kandahar, Afghanistan.Murray Brewster / AP file

Retired Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, who withdrew his nomination for a top Defense Department job last week, has been appointed to another Pentagon role in the same office.

Tata's confirmation hearing to become the undersecretary of defense for policy was abruptly canceled last Thursday morning as it became clear that he might not have the votes to make it through the Senate Armed Services committee due to bipartisan concerns.

The Pentagon said Sunday that Tata had been designated as the acting deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, reporting to the acting undersecretary of defense for policy, James Anderson. Tata's new position does not require Senate approval.

"He looks forward to continuing to help implement the President’s National Security agenda," the Pentagon said of Tata in a statement.

Tata has expressed Islamophobic views publicly and in 2018 called former President Barack Obama a "terrorist leader" on Twitter. Tata deleted some of his past tweets after CNN published an article on them. CNN also reported that, in a radio appearance, Tata claimed the Iran nuclear deal came about because of Obama's "Islamic roots" and was an attempt "to help Iranians and the greater Islamic state crush Israel."

In a letter, Tata said he regretted those remarks, as CNN reported. The letter was sent to the top members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., both of whom were overseeing Tata's nomination.

Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden, condemned Tata for the comments. Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said in a statement that someone who expresses Tata's views has "no business serving in high positions in our government."

The White House has remained supportive of Tata, who has offered pro-Trump commentary on Fox News.

Reed, in a statement Monday, asked "lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to condemn this unjust appointment and urge the White House to reconsider it and remove General Tata from this post without delay."

"It’s hard to see how General Tata can do an effective job given the serious questions raised by both parties during a closed Executive Session of the Armed Services Committee last week, and General Tata’s many incorrect and divisive public commentary," Reed said. "Until the issues raised by Senators of both parties can be resolved, General Tata should not be serving in a position in the Defense Department."

CORRECTION (Aug. 3, 2020, 11:50 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated when the Pentagon announced Anthony Tata's appointment to a new role in the Pentagon. It was Sunday, not Monday.