Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) grilled State Department chief diversity and inclusion officer Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley on Tuesday over an email that allegedly complained about job applications from "straight, white men."
Abercrombie-Winstanley became the first State Department chief diversity and inclusion officer last year after serving as the ambassador to Malta from 2012 to 2016.
During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Cruz confronted Abercrombie-Winstanley over an email from a senior State Department official that disclosed discriminatory hiring practices.
"The email says that hiring practices have developed inside the State Department so that 'certain candidates could not be hired because they have a disability; they are white men; they are straight, white men; they are not of the 'right religion,'" Cruz said.
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"Did you clear this guidance?" he asked.
"I've never seen that before," Abercrombie-Winstanley said.
"So you didn’t know it had been sent," Cruz followed up.
"This is the first time I’m seeing it, sir," she clarified.
Cruz explained that the email represents a "mandate to discriminate" against certain people, which he charged is directly related to Abercrombie-Winstanley's efforts to make the State Department more "equitable."
Earlier in the hearing, Cruz described the office's efforts as "brazen discrimination."
Later, Abercrombie-Winstanley claimed that she is "definite and certain" that discriminatory hiring policies are not in practice at the State Department. Cruz then appeared to seize on her admission. If such practices are not happening, then why is a diversity and inclusion office necessary?
"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?" Cruz pressed. "It’s what you just said."
In response, Abercrombie-Winstanley noted that discriminatory hiring practices are unlawful, explaining the State Department is not "overtly" or "on purpose" breaking the law, but admitted there are discriminatory individuals who work at the State Department.
"What would you say you do around here?" Cruz followed up, quoting a line from the movie "Office Space."
"What is your job if not to stop discrimination? And unfortunately, I believe what your job, in practice, is encouraging this discrimination," he declared.
Toward the end of Cruz's questioning, Abercrombie-Winstanley tried to rebut the content of the email message in question, but committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) ended Cruz's time.
Ted Cruz Reveals Internal State Dept. Emails Show a Culture of Hiring Discrimination Has Developed www.youtube.com