“Wait and see what happens," Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, said at an event in Washington today promoting gay, lesbian and transgender issues.
African-American, Latino and Muslim groups have expressed concern that Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail — widely criticized for being racist and discriminatory — will be reflected in his administration. Anti-Trump protests have erupted in cities across the country.
Gupta was asked today whether she's concerned Trump will nominate leaders to the Justice Department who are anti–civil rights.
“Right now, there’s a lot of uncertainty, to say the least,” she responded. “Uncertainty produces anxiety and fear. And I can’t say what will happen.”
She noted that the civil rights division is filled with “career lawyers” who “are so incredibly mission-driven in the work that they are doing,” and she said what they have done under Barack Obama’s administration will carry on.
“There are communities and individuals that are relying on the work of those career lawyers to do that, and these are men and women who are used to ... working upstream,” Gupta added. “My hope is that ... there is an awareness and a sensitivity to the importance of the civil rights division’s work.”
But she emphasized that there’s “so much that we don’t know.”
“I don’t even know who’s going to be the head of the DOJ transition team at this point,” she said, referring to the unexpected departure of former Justice Department official Kevin O’Connor, who had been handling the Justice Department transition for Trump.
Last week former and current federal prosecutors welcomed news that O’Connor — described as having a good reputation among career attorneys in government — would be helping shape the next Justice Department, sources told ABC News.
“Equal justice under the law — he is the personification of that,” Larson said of O’Connor, a Republican. “While we may not agree on everything philosophically, I know the values he [would] bring to that decision-making process.”
“He would be my choice for attorney general,” Larson said.
But now O’Connor is out of the mix.