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June 8, 2020, 4:40 a.m.
Reporting & Production
LINK: www.nytimes.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   June 8, 2020

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker who has worked closely with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, to a three-year term leading the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other state-run media outlets. The 53-38 vote fell largely along party lines, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va) voting with Republicans.

From The New York Times:

The vote, 53 to 38, came after Mr. Trump personally intervened to expedite Mr. Pack’s nomination, which had initially stalled amid concerns from senators in both parties and hit a snag more recently amid an investigation by the District of Columbia attorney general into whether he illegally funneled funds from his nonprofit group to his for-profit film company. […]

The investigation by the District of Columbia’s attorney general is focused on whether Mr. Pack acted improperly by sending at least $1.6 million in donations to the Public Media Lab to his production company in a series of transactions first reported by MSNBC. Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, argued that the Senate should pause its consideration of Mr. Pack’s nomination until the inquiry was closed.

Voice of America’s Katherine Gypson reported:

In his confirmation hearing last September, Pack addressed concerns he would attempt to impose a political bias on USAGM agencies, including VOA, which is mandated by U.S. law to be objective and balanced in its reporting.

“The whole agency rests on the belief the reporters are independent, that no political influence is telling them how to report the news and what to say. Without that trust, I think, the agency is completely undermined,” Pack told the committee.

With Pack’s nomination seemingly stalled in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, President Trump last month expressed frustration about the wait, saying it was due to Democratic obstruction. The president previously threatened to adjourn Congress to push the nomination through.

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