Defense Secretary James Mattis today announced that he is withdrawing the nomination of former Ambassador Anne Patterson from the position of Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, in the face of growing Senate opposition and Trump Administration reluctance to support her.
Sens. Tom Cotton (R – AR) and Ted Cruz (R – TX) had expressed strong opposition to Ambassador Patterson for the role, because she had served as the Ambassador to Egypt from 2011 to 2013, and during that period met with members of the elected Egyptian government, which was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party won the 2012 election, and a top figure in the party, President Mohamed Morsi, served in that position until summer of 2013, when a military coup ousted the elected government.
There are some efforts on the American right to demonize the Muslim Brotherhood in general terms, including potentially labeling it a “terrorist” organization, despite its explicit rejection of violence. Patterson is not accused of being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, or necessarily even a supporter of the group, but rather simply of having met with them as part of her duties as an ambassador.
The Trump Administration has already struggled with some of its nominees facing resistance for having met with Russian officials. It appears, however, that contact with the former Egyptian government also carries such a taint, adding one more disqualifying source of contact for former officials.