Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz pressed the State Department’s chief Diversity and Inclusion officer Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley over an email allegedly excluding “straight, white men” and people of the wrong religion from being hired.
The senator argued Tuesday that the department’s Equity Action Plan, which changed hiring practices at the agency, is “nothing more than brazen discrimination.” An email from a senior department official described reports from candidates claiming to be denied a position for having a disability or for classifying as “white men, straight white men, [or] not [being] of the right religion.”
“Did you clear this guidance?” Cruz asked during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on ‘diversity, equity and inclusion.’
“I’ve never seen that before,” Abercrombie-Winstanley said.
“So you didn’t know it had been sent,” Cruz clarified.
“This is the first time I’m seeing it, sir,” she said.
The senator suspected that a person not being of the “right religion” pertains to Christians. He pressed her if she is aware that these hiring practices are allegedly occurring inside the State Department, to which she responded that they are not.
“So do you believe the senior state department official who sent this email was lying?” he asked.
“Senator, I can’t comment. I don’t know who that’s from,” she said. “I’ve never seen it before.”
“So you’re the chief diversity officer and you are arguing you are certain discrimination is not happening at the state department, is that right? Is that what you’re testifying? It’s what you just said.”
Abercrombie-Winstanley said the State Department is not intentionally breaking the law, though there are members of the agency that “discriminate,” “harass,” and “bully,” therefore leading to the creation of programs to hold individuals practicing discriminatory actions accountable.
The senator said she called for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Accessibility hiring practices, though she claimed she was unaware of the instructions in the email.
“What would you say you do around here?” the senator said. “What is your job if not to stop discrimination, and unfortunately, I believe your job, in practice, is encouraging this discrimination. This is a manifestation … is it good for the State Department and good for the United States government to be actively discriminating based on disability, based on race, based on being a straight white man, or based on not being the right religion, it that good or bad?”
“Indeed, and so I would say comments do not at all say it is indeed happening,” she said.
“Comments from hiring people saying we can’t hire them because of it,” he said.
Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing chairman, said Cruz should provide attribution for the email and then be “fully investigated.”