Kristen Clarke was the first black woman to be nominated to the position of Assistant Attorney General. Clarke’s nomination was announced the day after the Capitol Riot, and she used the events of that day to stress the importance of the incoming administration’s work: “We are at a crossroads. If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed, we will turn the page on hate and close the door on discrimination by enforcing our federal civil rights laws.”

Clarke’s nomination came after a career in civil rights advocacy. A former federal prosecutor, Clarke was described as a prominent civil and voting rights advocate by the mainstream and progressive press following her nomination. Coverage of her nomination noted that the incoming Biden Administration was looking to uphold commitments to racial justice made on the campaign trail in 2020.

Clarke quickly became a target for the conservative press. Tucker Carlson did a series of high-profile segments on Clarke where he accused her of being a black supremacist, an ally to antisemites, and a supporter of a man accused of killing a police officer. In one of these segments, Carlson brought on a guest who said Clarke “hates white people.” Fox News attacked Clarke for supporting the ‘defund the police’ movement and painted Clarke as an enemy of law and order. Right-wing opposition research firm American Accountability Fund heightened these attacks, calling Clarke a friend of “cop killers” and distorting her words to accuse her of maligning single mothers. Prominent senators such as Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Chuck Grassley, John Cornyn, and Tom Cotton repeated the claims originated by Tucker, A.A.F, and Fox—grilling Clarke on her supposed ties to antisemites and ‘cop killers’ and her thoughts on the ‘defund the police’ movement.

While Clarke was successfully confirmed, the right-wing smear campaign against Clarke succeeded in slowing down her confirmation. Compared to other Biden DOJ nominees through his first year in office, it took Clarke nearly twice as long to get a hearing, and her total nomination process was roughly 30% longer than average.

Nomination Timeline


Initial Media Reaction to Clarke


Right-Wing Attacks on Clark


Right-Wing Funding


Attacks Against Clarke During Hearing


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