Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) grilled a Biden judicial nominee on Wednesday over an exaggerated anti-police accusation, ultimately catching the nominee in a lie.
During a Senate confirmation hearing for Nusrat Jahan Choudhury, whom Biden has nominated to be a U.S. federal district judge in New York, Kennedy pressed her for once claiming that American police kill unarmed black men every day.
"This is a really simple question, counselor. Do you believe that cops kill unarmed black men in America every single day? You said it at Princeton," Kennedy asked.
"Senator, I said it in my role as an advocate," Choudhury responded.
"Oh, OK. You didn’t mean it," Kennedy replied mockingly.
"Senator, I said it in my role as an advocate to make a rhetorical point," Choudhury followed up.
Kennedy then pressed Choudhury on how she can justify making untruthful claims, rhetorical or not, and whether she actually believes what she said.
"So, when you say something that’s incorrect, it’s OK to excuse it by saying, ‘Oh, I was being an advocate’? What do you believe? Do you personally believe that cops kill unarmed black man every single day in America?" Kennedy asked.
Choudhury deflected from answering the question, but Kennedy pressed further.
"Senator, I believe law enforcement have an important and challenging job in this country ..." Choudhury began to say.
"That’s not what you said, though, counselor," Kennedy interjected. "I just think that’s an extraordinary statement to make, with no data to back it up — none whatsoever. There’s no basis for you saying that. And you knew it then, and you know it now. How can someone one possibly believe that you’re gonna be unbiased on the federal bench?"
When Choudhury claimed that her records shows that she has "worked collaboratively" with multiple law enforcement agencies to "solve complex problems," Kennedy fired back, "Your record shows that you believe cops are guilty until proven innocent."
"Your record shows that if a cop — if a cop shoots a criminal it’s the cop’s fault, and if a criminal shoots a cop it’s the gun’s fault. I’ve read your record. I’ve read your record," Kennedy continued, "and I don’t appreciate you not answering the question straight up. I would respect you a lot more if you’d just tell us what you believe and not try to hide it."
What do the statistics show?
Statistics compiled by the Washington Post, which meticulously tracks police shootings, show that Choudhury's claim could not be farther from the truth.
In fact, police shot and killed 1,055 people last year. Just six of those fatalities were unarmed black men, the fewest number since the Post has been tracking police shootings (search the Post's database here).