Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, whose questions during a congressional hearing last month put Dr. Claudine Gay and two other prominent university administrators on the spot about anti-Semitism on their campuses, took a victory lap Tuesday late after Dr. Gay announced her resignation as president. from Harvard University.
“TWO DOWN,” Stefanik boasted on social media, punctuated by three red mermaid emojis. Last month, University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill resigned just four days after testifying before Congress and dodged Stefanik’s aggressive line of questioning about whether students who called for the genocide of Jews should be punished.
The contentious exchanges between Stefanik and the three university presidents came at the end of a five-hour congressional hearing called by House Republicans on the rise of anti-Semitism on college campuses. The moment went viral, forcing the trio of presidents, including Sally Kornbluth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to clarify their responses and leading to a period of intense scrutiny on all three.
In Ms. Gay’s case, that prompted an examination of her previous work that fueled accusations of plagiarism, ultimately causing her to resign on Tuesday.
Stefanik, the No. 4 Republican in the House, has called the resignations a political victory.
“I will always deliver,” Harvard alum Stefanik said in a statement Tuesday. “Claudine Gay’s morally flawed answers to my questions made history as the most viewed congressional testimony in the history of the United States Congress.” Stefanik added that “this is just the beginning of what will be the biggest scandal of any college or university in history.”
In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday afternoon, Stefanik vowed that an ongoing congressional investigation into universities that she announced after the hearing would continue to uncover “institutional rot.” And he again took credit for Dr. Gay’s resignation, arguing that “this accountability would not have occurred if it were not for the very clear moral issues at the hearing.”
Those questions almost didn’t arise. During the hearing, Ms. Stefanik had already tried four times to locate the three administrators. She repeatedly tried, unsuccessfully, to get them to agree with her that calls for an “intifada” and the use of slogans such as “from the river to the sea” amounted to calls for genocide against Jews that should not be tolerated in universities. .
They had dodged his interrogation with legal answers that, on their own, might not have made international headlines. But then they fell into a kind of procedural trap set by Ms. Stefanik, refusing to answer “yes” when she asked whether calling for the genocide of Jews violated their universities’ codes of conduct on bullying and harassment.
“I thought, ‘How can I dig deeper into this and ask this question in such a way that the answer is an easy ‘yes’? “EM,” Stefanik said in an interview last month. “And they blew it.”
Stefanik, who graduated from Harvard in 2006, has had conflicts with her alma mater in the past. After the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, the Harvard Institute of Politics removed Ms. Stefanik from its advisory board, citing her “public claims about voter fraud in the November presidential election that have no evidentiary basis.” .
Stefanik, a former moderate Republican who more than any other lawmaker in Congress represents to anti-Trump Democrats and Republicans the worst of what happened to the Republican Party under Trump, at the time called her impeachment “a ritual.” of passage and badge of honor.”
On Tuesday, one of Stefanik’s top advisers, Garrett Ventry, joked on social media that Stefanik was now the de facto president of Harvard University.
But she wasn’t the only House Republican vying Tuesday to take credit for Gay’s resignation.
Rep. John James, R-Mich., shared a clip on social media of his own line of questioning during the hearing, writing that Dr. Gay’s resignation came “after I questioned her last month about actions she had taken to combat anti-Semitism”. .”