Watch Senator Kennedy Go There: Should I Call You Professor Or Comrade?

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Senator John Kennedy did not let Democrats intimidate him into backing off from questioning Biden nominee Saule Omarova about her ties to communism.

At a Senate Banking Committee hearing considering Omarova’s nomination to be the Comptroller of the Currency, one the the most powerful financial regulators in the United States, Kennedy (R-LA) began his questions by going directly at the Cornell law professors past connections to communist organizations.

“You used to be a member of a group called the Young Communists, didn’t you?” Kennedy said.

“Senator are you referring to my membership in the youth communist organization while I was growing up in the Soviet Union?” Omarova said.

Omarova was raised in the Kazahk Soviet Socialist Republic, a part of the Soviet Union at the time. She graduated from Moscow State University in 1989. Until at least 2017, she listed on her resume her thesis from MSU titled “Karl Marx’s Economic Analysis and the Theory of Revolution in The Capital.” When Senator Pat Roomey (R-PA), the ranking member of the Banking Committee, requested a copy of the thesis, she claimed to no longer possess a copy.

Omarova went on to evade the question by claiming she did not know what group Kennedy was referring to.

Kennedy’s pursuit of the question of Omarova’s past ties to communism is controversial because Democrats have criticized such inquiries as McCarthyism and “Red Baiting.” The left has also characterized questions about her background as racist and xenophobic. At the start of the hearing, Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said that criticism of Omarova revealed what happened “when Trumpism meets McCarthyism.”

Kennedy was undeterred.

Kennedy: “The formal name of it is the Leninist Communist Young Union of the Russian Federation. It’s known as the Leninist Komsomol of the Russian Federation. And it is commonly referred to as the Young Communists. Were you a member?”

Omarova: “Senator, I was born and grew up in the Soviet Union.”

Kennedy: “Yes, mam. Were you a member?”

Omarova: “Everybody in that country was a member of the Komsomol, the Communist Youth organization.”

Kennedy: “So you were a member?”

Omarova: “That was part of normal progress at school.”

Kennedy: “Have you resigned?”

Omarova: “From the…”

Kennedy: “From the Youth Communists.”

Omarova: “You grow out of it automatically, with age.”

Kennedy: “Did you send them a letter, though, resigning?”

Omarova: “Senator, this was many, many years ago. As far as I remember, how the Soviet Union worked was that at a certain age you automatically stopped being a member.”

Kennedy: “Could you look in your records and see if you can find me a copy of…”

It was at this point that Senator Brown, the chair of the committee, interrupted.

Brown: “I almost never interrupt these but…”

Kennedy: “You always interrupt me, Mr. Chairman.”

Brown complained that Omarova had renounced her Soviet citizenship. Kennedy asked her to check for the letter oncea again. Omarova pointed out that she was part of the Soviet Union.

“This is America you can believe what you want,” Kennedy said, listing a number of the statements and positions of Omarova that had drawn criticism during the hearings. These included calling finance an “asshole industry,” calling for federal government wage and price setting, advocating a government takeover of all bank accounts, and welcoming the bankruptcy of oil, gas, and coal companies.

“You have the right to believe every one of these things. You do. This is America. But I don’t mean any disrespect,” Kenneday said. “I don’t know whether to call you Professor or Comrade.”




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