MSNBC host Chris Hayes tore into Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) on Thursday night for insinuating that President Joe Biden’s banking regulation nominee is a communist just because she grew up in the Soviet Union, calling Kennedy’s antics “embarrassing and clownish.”
Saule Omarova, a law professor at Cornell University, faced an onslaught of criticism from Republican lawmakers during a tense Senate hearing over her nomination to become the comptroller of the currency. Ahead of Thursday’s face-off, Fox News and other right-wing media outlets had led the charge in pushing conservatives to oppose her confirmation.
Noting that Omarova “has been the subject of intense resistance” from banking interests during Thursday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s All In, Hayes added that she’s “also been subject of one of the all-time dumbest, most craven Fox News propaganda wars” he’s seen in a while. He then cited Kennedy’s questioning of Omarova as a perfect example.
After airing a brief clip of Kennedy asking if she was in a group called The Young Communists, the MSNBC star turned back to the screen to rhetorically ask what the Louisiana lawmaker was doing.
“Well, Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana has clearly been watching his Fox News,” Hayes said. “And again, this is all cover for finance interests. It’s not some grassroots conservative moment. No one in the grass roots knows about this professor or cares about this work or this regulatory position.”
Hayes continued: “This is what Republicans do. This is modern conservatism operating at its highest level of synthesis and cooperation, where the finance interests whip up the mob via Fox News propaganda like that. And the way they have decided to do that is to attack the professor for being a communist.”
While displaying an on-air Fox graphic describing Omarova as “Biden’s Soviet-Trained Comptroller Of The Currency,” Hayes pointed out that “the origin of the attack is that she was, ding ding ding, born and raised in the communist Soviet Union.”
He went on to explain that Omarova came to the United States as a college student and eventually became an American citizen. Furthermore, not only was she required to attend communist schools as a child, her membership in the Young Communists organization was mandated.
Hayes then aired another exchange between Kennedy and Omarova that featured the GOP senator asking the Biden nominee if she had sent “a letter resigning” from the group, prompting Omarova to note that students would “automatically stop being a member” as they grew older.
“Could you look at your records and see if you can find a copy?” Kennedy wondered aloud.
Reacting to the clip, Hayes snarked: “Maybe she should write a letter now to a country that no longer exists.”
Finally, the All In host played video of Kennedy telling Omarova that he didn’t know “whether to call you professor or comrade,” only for the esteemed academic to pointedly insist that she’s “not a communist” while recounting the suffering her family endured under the Soviet regime.
“After Senator Kennedy was done with that absolutely embarrassing and clownish display, Senator Elizabeth Warren came in to set Kennedy straight,” Hayes concluded, referencing Warren accusing Kennedy of “Red Scare tactics.”