Kristen Clarke, President Biden’s nominee to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, told lawmakers Wednesday that she doesn’t support defunding the police, despite authoring an op-ed last calling for reducing departments’ budgets.
“I do not support defunding the police,” Ms. Clarke said in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Ms. Clarke last year authored an op-ed for Newsweek, titled “I Prosecuted Police Killings. Defund the Police — but Be Strategic.”
“I advocate for defunding policing operations that have made African Americans more vulnerable to police violence and contributed to mass incarceration while investing in more programs and policies that address critical community needs,” she wrote.
Republicans on the committee pressed Ms. Clarke how she could claim she didn’t support defunding the police, after calling for it in an op-ed.
“Do you disagree with your article?” asked Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican.
Ms. Clarke insisted the article was authored to “make clear” she does not support defunding the police.
Mr. Cruz called her response “astonishing and not credible.” The senator continued to read three paragraphs from the article that began, “We must invest less in police.”
“Without the power of the purse string, I wrote those words, but President Biden is committing more resources to police, and I think that’s a great thing.”
Ms. Clarke blamed the editor for choosing a “poor title” for the op-ed.
“I often defer to the editors I work with on choosing titles,” she said. “They often have good judgment about titles that ensure your thoughts and ideas get read. It is not a title that aligns well with the piece. I don’t support defunding the police.”
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