Biden Court Pick Adeel Mangi Refutes 'Shocking And False" Attacks On Him

In a new letter obtained by HuffPost, the historic Muslim nominee rejects Republican claims that he is somehow anti-law enforcement.

WASHINGTON — In an unusual move for a pending federal judicial nominee, President Joe Biden’s court pick Adeel Mangi is directly pushing back on the misleading and ugly claims that some Republicans, and one Democrat, have made about his record and his character.

In a new letter obtained by HuffPost, Mangi wrote to Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) on Thursday to address “certain misstatements” about his work with a nonprofit, Alliance for Families of Justice, and “certain baseless accusations” about his views about law enforcement.

Republicans have been waging a months-long smear campaign against Mangi, who, if confirmed, would be the nation’s first Muslim U.S. appeals court judge. He’s currently a nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, and if confirmed, he’d tilt that court’s ideological balance to be evenly divided between GOP-appointed and Democrat-appointed judges — certainly one reason why Republicans don’t want him confirmed.

But their attacks on Mangi, a 23-year civil litigator based in New Jersey, have been as grossly Islamophobic as they have been unfounded. Republicans have tried to cast him as an antisemitic terrorist sympathizer, and more recently, are accusing him of associating himself with cop-killers.

None of that is true. But the anti-law enforcement accusations were enough to spook Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) into announcing her opposition to Mangi this week.

In his letter, Mangi said he wasn’t asked about his work with AFJ in his Senate confirmation hearing in December, so he hasn’t had a chance to address the allegations being made about this group or his views on law enforcement. Mangi is on the advisory board for AFJ, a New York nonprofit that provides counseling and legal aid to the family members of people who have been incarcerated. Actor Danny Glover is a co-founder and board member.

“Whether motivated by attempts to portray my religion as violent, or any other goal, any suggestion that I have sympathy for attacks on law enforcement is shocking and false,” said the New Jersey judicial nominee.

Republicans and Cortez Masto have alleged that Mangi is anti-police, in part because AFJ sponsored a fellowship named after the late Kathy Boudin, an activist affiliated with the radical militant group Weather Underground who served time in prison for her role in a 1981 robbery that left two police officers dead. Boudin went on to become a criminal justice reform advocate who co-founded the Center for Justice at Columbia University.

Republicans and Cortez Masto also say Mangi’s ties to AFJ are problematic because the group called for releasing people from prison who killed police officers. This appears to be a reference to AFJ advocating in 2021 for the release of aging former Black Panthers like Mumia Abu-Jamal, who got COVID-19 and was at risk of dying in prison. Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing a police officer in 1981. (His trial has been the subject of intense scrutiny.)

In his letter, Mangi lays out how loose his connection is to AFJ, as someone who serves as a resource on an advisory board that’s never met. He said he didn’t know Boudin and had no involvement in a fellowship named after her. And he said he didn’t know anything about an event where someone with AFJ apparently referred to former Black Panthers as “elder freedom fighters.”

“I have never and would never use such phrasing to refer to anyone convicted of crimes against law enforcement,” he wrote. “Crimes against law enforcement officers are horrific and indefensible. I have not represented or otherwise provided legal services to any individual convicted of killing a law enforcement officer. I condemn any violence against law enforcement officers without equivocation.”

Mangi went on offense, too, calling out the law enforcement groups who have publicly opposed his nomination based on bad information.

“Their claims about my positions are categorically false, misinformed, and mistaken,” he wrote. “I expect any such organizations to retract their claims now that the facts are clear.”

You can read his full letter here:

Adeel Mangi letter to Cory Booker 3/21/24 by jen_bendery on Scribd

After months of the GOP’s Islamophobic and baseless attacks on Mangi, his nomination is hanging by a thread. Between Cortez Masto’s opposition and Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) saying he won’t vote for Mangi, either, it certainly appears as if this nomination battle is over.

But there are a couple of specific scenarios in which Mangi may have a chance at being confirmed.

Democrats could still get Mangi through if they can get at least one Republican to vote with them, assuming all other Democrats (aside from Cortez Masto and Manchin) support him.

It’s possible Democrats could find that support in Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) or Susan Collins (R-Maine), who sometimes vote to confirm Biden’s court picks. So far, Murkowski has been mum on where she stands on Mangi, and Collins has simply said she has “concerns.”

The other scenario where Democrats could try to get Mangi through is by being crafty.

There have been some notable absences in the Senate lately, in both parties, and that will only increase as the November elections get closer. It’s possible that if Democratic leaders time it right, they could bring up Mangi’s vote on the Senate floor when enough Republicans are absent and enough Democrats are present to confirm him.

The White House says it’s still fighting for him, along with top Democrats like Senate Judiciary Committee Dick Durbin (Ill.). So at least some of them are still trying to get Mangi across the finish line.

“Mr. Mangi, who has lived the American Dream and proven his integrity, is being targeted by a malicious and debunked smear campaign solely because he would make history as the first Muslim to serve as a federal appellate judge,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates told HuffPost in a statement.

“Senate Democrats should side with the qualities that makes America exceptional — which Mr. Mangi embodies — not the hateful forces trying to force America into the past,” he said.

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