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Past Tweets Imperil Perkins Coie US Attorney Nominee (1)

July 19, 2022, 11:34 PMUpdated: July 20, 2022, 12:36 AM

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) won’t support a Perkins Coie attorney’s nomination to be a US attorney in his state over now-deleted tweets, potentially sinking her confirmation chances.

Johnson’s Tuesday announcement that he won’t support the confirmation of Sopen Shah comes after the senator recommended her to the White House through a bipartisan nomination commission with fellow Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D).

“Through tweets that she has now deleted, Ms. Sopen Shah demonstrated she would be yet another political partisan within our justice system. As a result, I will not support her nomination,” Johnson said in a statement.

Under current practice, nominees for US attorney seats need support from both home-state senators to advance, which will prevent Shah from getting confirmed.

The decision isn’t the first time Johnson has changed his position on a Biden nominee a bipartisan commission recommended. He also pulled support for William Pocan, who is nominated to a US district court in Wisconsin. Pocan’s nomination has not moved forward since Johnson changed his position.

Archived Tweets

The tweets in question included criticism of the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol and of Johnson himself, according to archived copies of 10 posts provided by the senator’s office.

“I am 110% confident that @SenRonJohnson does not know how law works,” the account @Sopen_Shah tweeted Feb. 12, 2021, according to a link from the Wayback Machine, an internet archive tool. That tweet was made in response to a post from the senator’s account praising Donald Trump’s lawyers in his second impeachment proceedings.

On Jan. 7, 2021 @Sopen_Shah tweeted that Wisconsin would teach Johnson “a thing or two about accountability come 2022...” in response to an NBC reporter’s tweet, according to an archived link. In the quoted tweet, journalist Garrett Haake said Johnson told him neither he and others who planned to object to the electoral college results or Trump had responsibility for the violence on Jan. 6, 2021.

Baldwin slammed Johnson’s decision to pull his support for Shah.

“Senator Johnson is disrespecting the work of our Nominating Commission and abusing the Senate’s Blue Slip process to play his own personal politics about the 2020 election that Trump lost,” Baldwin said in a statement Tuesday. “Blue slips” are the documents senators use to signify support for a nominee.

Alexa Henning, a Johnson spokeswoman, said the senator wasn’t aware of the tweets when he signed off on Shah’s recommendation in May 2021 and the senators don’t “sit in on commission interviews or other proceedings when considering nominees.”

“Ms. Shah deleted her Twitter at some point, so we only recently learned about these tweets and once we did the senator expressed his opposition,” Henning said.

Shah and the White House didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Shah, who graduated from Yale Law School in 2015, previously worked as Wisconsin’s deputy solicitor general, according to her law firm profile. She also clerked for two Republican-appointed federal judges: Second Circuit Judge Debra Ann Livingston and then-Eastern District of Kentucky Judge Amul Thapar, who is now on the Sixth Circuit.

(Updates with description of the blue slip.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at malder@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com