Biden nominee gives troubling non-answers when grilled on her lenient penalty stance for child porn offenders

Sen. Josh Hawley on Wednesday slammed President Joe Biden’s latest nominee for having signed a letter in 2013 that argued that the sentencing guidelines for child porn offenders are too harsh and that there should be no mandatory minimum sentences.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Hawley asked U.S. Sentencing Commission nominee Laura Mate, who’s been with the Federal Public and Community Defenders since 2010, point-blank whether she’d signed the letter.

“Didn’t you sign a letter in July of 2013 in which you argued that the child pornography guidelines were too severe — is that right?”  he said.

Mate admitted she’d signed the letter — “yes, I did” — but tried to play it off by arguing that the Federal Defenders as a whole had written it.

Hawley responded by reiterating that she’d signed the letter and asking whether perhaps she’s changed her perspective on the issue since 2013.

“I don’t have an opinion on that right now, senator,” Mate replied, arguing that she needs to “look at the data” to decide whether she still agrees with the premise that child porn sentencing guidelines are too harsh.

In response, Hawley recited the data for her.

“So you said you weren’t familiar with the facts. Let me just rehearse a few of the facts for you. According to The New York Times, in 2018 there were 45 million online photos and videos of children being sexually abused. That was more than double the number from the previous year,” the Missouri Republican said.

“The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported that in 2021, that number had risen to 85 million. So from 45 in 2018 to 85 million photos, videos of children being exploited online. A huge increase in just the space of those very few years,” he added.

He then asked whether, in light of these facts, Mate still stands by the 2013 letter’s claim that the “moral panic” over “sex crimes involving children” is  based “on lurid stereotypes and widespread misunderstanding of the typical nature of these offenders.”

FYI, those words were plucked directly from the letter:

(Source: Federal Defenders)

Mate responded by again playing coy.

“If I’m lucky enough to be confirmed as a commissioner, I would want to carefully examine all of these issues. … Our statutory obligation as commissioners is to consider all the purposes of sentencing to gather data, research, and information and make informed recommendations, and I would want to collaborate with commissioners in making those recommendations,” she said.

Hawley replied by saying he’s just trying to “get a sense” of her policy preferences, which is highly relevant because the position she’s been nominated for revolves around creating policies.

With that in mind, he then asked her again whether she still believes in the premises that were outlined in the letter she’d signed nine years ago.

“You have previously said that you thought no mandatory minimums were necessary or appropriate. In this context, in light of this data, is that still your position, that you think that no mandatory minimum sentences for these crimes of exploitation against children is appropriate?” he asked.

Instead of supplying a simple “yes” or “no” answer, Mate once again spit out a word salad devoid of any substantive meaning.

“I’m looking for a yes or no answer. … You’re being confirmed to a policy-making position, and this is deadly serious policy. So I’d like to know if you’ve taken a position on this,” Hawley replied, trying once again to squeeze a real answer out of her.

“I don’t have a position on mandatory minimums,” Mate responded, indicating that she apparently doesn’t care either way.

Hawley then tried asking her whether there’s any crime — rape, murder, etc. — that she personally believes merits a mandatory sentence, but again she repeated her diatribe about needing to examine the so-called “data.”

Mate isn’t the only Biden nominee who’s displayed an apparent soft spot for criminals involved in child sex crimes:

Fed-up with her non-answer answers, Hawley concluded his remarks by unleashing his frustration.

“What I draw from it is that you don’t want to answer my questions because the positions that you took were radical and, frankly, I think wrong — and in light of the dangers that children and people all over this country are facing, I think deeply, deeply wrong-headed,” he said.

“I can’t possibly support your nomination. I can’t support the nomination of someone who wants to do away with mandatory minimums. I think it’s a radical position, and I think frankly your nomination is indicative of where this administration is on its soft on crime policies,” he added.

Indeed, despite the Biden administration’s rhetoric about being pro-policing and anti-criminal, its actions have consistently belied it — from nominating lax-on-crime officials like Mate to remaining dead quiet about the community destroying policies of Soros-funded “progressive” prosecutors.

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Vivek Saxena

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