The New York Times is right, today’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a Supreme Court Confirmation Charade:
Republicans aren’t even pretending to do their constitutional duty. Senator Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, is refusing to let his colleagues or the American people see millions of documents from Judge Kavanaugh’s time as White House staff secretary to President George W. Bush — a job he has called the most influential of his career in terms of his approach to judging.
In fact, over the weekend the White House Withheld 100,000 Pages of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Records:
The Trump White House, citing executive privilege, is withholding from the Senate more than 100,000 pages of records from Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s time as a lawyer in the administration of former President George W. Bush.
The decision, disclosed in a letter that a lawyer for Mr. Bush sent on Friday to Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, comes just days before the start of Judge Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings on Tuesday. It drew condemnation from Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.
“We’re witnessing a Friday night document massacre,” Mr. Schumer wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “President Trump’s decision to step in at the last moment and hide 100k pages of Judge Kavanaugh’s records from the American public is not only unprecedented in the history of SCOTUS noms, it has all the makings of a cover up.”
Hours before the start of hearings on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, the lawyer for former president George W. Bush turned over 42,000 pages of documents from the nominee’s service in the Bush White House, angering Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, who issued what is certain to be a futile call to delay the proceedings.
“Not a single senator will be able to review these records before tomorrow,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted Monday evening.
Taylor Foy, a spokesman for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), responded that “our review team will be able to complete its examination of this latest batch in short order, before tomorrow’s hearing begins.” A few hours later, a tweet from the committee said that the “Majority staff has now completed its review of each and every one of these pages.”
The hearings are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, with opening statements by committee members. No information was released on the subject matter of the documents, and Bush’s lawyer William A. Burck asked that they be kept from the public, made available only to committee members and staff.
In the letter to Grassley, Burck said lawyers working on behalf of the former president would determine at a later date which of the documents are “appropriate for public release.”
The Bush legal team had already turned over about 415,000 pages to the committee, with about 147,000 of them withheld from public view. Trump has claimed executive privilege to prevent release of more than 101,921 pages of records from Kavanaugh’s tenure in the White House.
As the Washington Post reports, The level of production of documents from Kavanaugh’s White House days, both in the counsel’s office and as Bush’s staff secretary, has been a central point of attack for Democrats jousting with the White House and Republicans over Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee. Demands for documents from Kavanaugh’s staff secretary service have been rejected by Republicans.
UPDATE: From Daily Kos:
Senate Republicans are hiding as much as 90 percent of Kavanaugh’s documents.
Republican Chairman Chuck Grassley out-and-out lied about the document release, saying that they were making as much available for Kavanugh as Democrats did for Justice Elena Kagan, an assertion destroyed by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, who corrected the record with the facts: 99 percent of the White House’s Kagan records were made public 12 days before the hearings began, as opposed to the Kavanaugh debacle, where just 4 percent of documents have been made public and 40,000+ were released just hours before the hearing.
Leahy also pointed out in the hearing and in a tweet that among the documents that were released [Monday evening], there are tens of thousands of duplicates of inconsequential documents: What we got includes event invitations like this, duplicated MORE THAN 44,000 TIMES. The American people need to see #JudgeKavanaugh’s full record. #WhatAreTheyHiding?”
“Republicans know this has been the least transparent SCOTUS process in history,” Schumer tweeted, “and the hearings should be delayed until we can fully review Judge Kavanaugh’s records.”
This is not going to happen. Authoritarian Tea-Publicans are hiding the ball on this deeply unpopular pick for the Supreme court, Brett Kavanaugh: The Most Unpopular Supreme Court Nominee in Decades:
[P]olls from Fox News to Gallup to Pew showed that fewer than 40 percent of respondents thought he should be confirmed. According to the polling site FiveThirtyEight, those numbers ranked him alongside Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel nominated to the court by President George W. Bush, whose name was withdrawn after massive opposition from her own party, and far worse than even Clarence Thomas, whose nomination was dogged by sexual harassment allegations against him.Kavanaugh is even less popular than Trump’s previous Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.
When Brett Kavanaugh appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee [today] for the hearing to consider his nomination to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, he will officially become the most unpopular person to sit in that seat since Robert Bork. Bork’s nomination was scuttled in 1987 because of what were seen as his extreme legal views.
If Kavanaugh was anything but the partisan political hack he is – he has been the Forrest Gump of American politics since working for Ken Starr’s investigation of Bill Clinton – he would do the right thing and withdraw his name from consideration. As Jennifier Rubin wrote, It’s up to Kavanaugh to do the right thing:
Pleading with two Republicans to slow down the train is useless. Not a single one, let alone two, dare cross Trump and his base. They are determined to rush through a nomination that even in normal times should be decided by voters and the new Senate. They will not even release Kavanaugh’s full record, let alone wait to find out if Trump should even be president.
Because the GOP is incapable of putting democratic institutions and the rule of law above partisanship, the task of preserving the Supreme Court’s integrity falls to the nominee himself, Kavanaugh. If he is the judge of such sterling character as Republicans insist, he’ll do two things. First, he will insist his entire record during his tenure as White House staff secretary to President George W. Bush be opened for review so the American people can be satisfied that Republicans aren’t hiding the ball. And then — this is big — Kavanaugh himself should insist his nomination be delayed until after the special counsel’s report is issued or recuse himself from matters pertaining to Trump arising out of the investigation. Trump can withdraw the nomination but Kavanaugh will have sent a powerful signal that he is his own man and that he will not allow the Supreme Court’s legitimacy to be questioned.
Yeah, that’s not going to happen. As I said, Kavanaugh is a partisan political hack. Integrity is not in his DNA.
Tom Nichols, a professor at the Naval War College and a former Republican aide in the U.S. Senate, writes that Kavanaugh’s confirmation must wait:
There is no way Republicans will halt their march toward Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. But if the party still cared about limited government and the rule of law, it would wait until after November to proceed.
I say this with deep reluctance. I was one of few Republicans who objected to the way Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) denied a hearing to Merrick Garland when he was nominated to the court by President Barack Obama, despite the fact that I consider myself a conservative — or what used to be called a conservative, before the age of Trump — and that I did not look forward to adding a justice appointed by a liberal Democrat.
But if Republicans cared about any principle they have ever defended before today, they would put Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings on hold. The reason: We are now in the opening phase of a political crisis brought about by the guilty plea entered in federal court on Tuesday by the president’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen.
I am not a lawyer, but I believe the legal experts who have argued that when Cohen stood in court and said he did something illegal “in coordination with and at the direction of” a candidate who could not be anyone other than President Trump, he was clearly implicating the president in serious and knowing criminal behavior. Of course, I also have no idea whether a sitting president can be indicted or prosecuted.
But we are now in political, not legal, territory. The question is whether the members of the U.S. Senate should confirm a nominee who could, sooner rather than later, be sitting in judgment of the same president who nominated him — even as a scandal with huge constitutional ramifications is unfolding in real time.
Trump is now in a position to place a justice on the court who could well end up deciding essential matters as they pertain to the rule of law and to the president personally. This requires a deliberate pause. And yet, the same Republicans who felt Obama had no business nominating a justice so close to an election — as though presidential terms end somewhere short of eight years, as long as the legislative majority says so — are now rushing to confirm a judge whose entire nomination now could represent a gigantic conflict of interest for their own president and party.
So who, then, should decide when Kavanaugh gets a hearing? The answer, as always, should rest with the American people.
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We also might have at least some resolution to the Mueller investigation by November. Having the investigation complete before moving forward on almost any major initiative, let alone a Supreme Court nomination, would be ideal, but special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team should be allowed as much time as it needs and the government must continue and function in the meantime. Still, if there are more indictments — as seems likely — they will give the voters and the Congress that much more information before the election and before the lifetime appointment of a new justice.
In any case, there is no way around the reality that there is now a credible accusation, on the record in a federal court, that the current president of the United States may have directed his lawyer to commit two felonies. There is too much here to simply proceed as though this were just another nomination. The voters deserve a chance to weigh in before the Senate rushes to place a justice on the court, one who will still be there decades after Trump is out of office.
The president is the president and commander in chief until Congress or the American people say he’s not. He maintains every power and perquisite of his office until that moment. He has every right to nominate a justice to the Supreme Court. But if the Senate cannot wait roughly 70 days to begin their deliberations, we ought to ask why Republicans feel it is imperative to rush Kavanaugh onto the court, and why, most of all, they will not trust in the judgment of the voters just two years after claiming that only the voters could speak on something as important as a Supreme Court nomination.
Because authoritarians do not care what voters think. It is all about their abuse of power.
If you want to break their stranglehold on the U.S. government, you must reject Tea-Publicans in November and elect Democrats to the Senate and Congress.