Saule Omarova, President Joe Biden’s pick to be the top banking regulator, has withdrawn her nomination after Republicans lobbed “inappropriate personal attacks” and branded her a Communist. Her skeptics—which also included bank lobbyists and moderate Democrats—weren’t convinced that Omarova, a Cornell Law School professor, was suited to control the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Though Biden believed she could bring “invaluable insight” to the position, her opponents argued that she couldn’t be trusted because of her childhood upbringing in the Soviet Union. “[U]nfortunately, from the very beginning of her nomination, Saule was subjected to inappropriate personal attacks that were far beyond the pale” Biden said.
Her Russian upbringing was a sticking point for Republicans during her congressional hearing, with Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) joking, “I don’t know whether to call you professor or comrade.” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said Tuesday that the “relentless smear campaign” against Omarova was “reminiscent of red scare McCarthyism.”