GOP continues to hide the ball on Brett Kavanaugh and rush his confirmation (Updated)


The confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh last week raised more questions than were answered. Democrats want the confirmation slowed down so there is time to receive documents not yet produced by the National Archives — only 10 percent of documents have been made available so far — But Republican leaders continue to reject their reasonable requests by labeling documents that have been produced “committee confidential” and rushing to a Judiciary Committee vote next week.

This is not normal. This is what GOP authoritarianism looks like. Joan McCarter at Daily Kos sounds the alarm, Grassley and fellow Republicans continue slow murder of democracy in Kavanaugh hearing:

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee tried and failed to slow down the confirmation process on Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in Thursday morning’s meeting. At the outset, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) moved to adjourn, pointing out the total farce this nomination and committee process has been. “There’s no way to seek justice. I am hear under protest. There is fundamental injustice here.” Grassley proceeded with the meeting, setting a vote on the nomination for next week.

Sen. Feinstein then moved to subpoena the hundreds of thousands of documents from Kavanaugh’s Bush White House service that have been withheld, and was voted down by 11-10, all Republicans voting to keep the nation in the dark. A second motion “to subpoena 100,000 documents denied to the committee through a bogus assertion of ‘constitutional privilege'” followed, also defeated 11-10. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) moved to subpoena documents from Kavanaugh’s Bush White House service related native Hawaiians and indigenous people, and was defeated 11-10.

Blumenthal came back with another motion to subpoena more records about the stolen emails we already know Kavanaugh lied about. He was defeated, 11-10. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) made a motion to subpoena documents related to torture and warrantless wiretapping, which Kavanaugh also lied to the committee about. Defeated, 11-10. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) had a last subpoena motion, attempting to get more information on Kavanaugh’s views of expansive presidential power. It was defeated, 11-10.

Grassley is pushing the vote next week, breaking the rules of the Senate, setting the vote for 1:45 on Thursday, September 20 against objections by Durbin that he is violating Rule 4 of Senate Rules which sets the process for ending debate on nominations and taking votes. Grassley is denying senators the opportunity to debate and discuss the nomination.

Democracy is breathing its last gasps in the Senate, thanks to Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley. They’re killing it for unindicted co-conspirator Donald Trump and his get-out-of-jail-free Supreme Court nominee—and every Republican senator is enabling that.

Sen. Mazie Hirono’s motion to subpoena documents from Kavanaugh’s Bush White House service related native Hawaiians and indigenous people is newly relevant. Key supporter of Murkowski, Alaska Federation of Natives, announces opposition to Kavanaugh:

Sen. Mazi Hirono (D-HI) was quietly fierce in last week’s hearings for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, and has remained so, demanding “to know the full extent of Brett Kavanaugh’s lies regarding indigenous communities.” That is putting her Alaska colleague, Republican Lisa Murkowski, on the spot and the pressure has only increased. The state’s largest Native group, the Alaska Federation of Natives, has announced its opposition to the Kavanaugh nomination.

Noting that the “federal judicial appointment and confirmation process is designed to thoroughly vet nominees” and because of that “we did not immediately weigh in on President Trump’s choice to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.” But this time is different.

However, the questions and colloquies that came out of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate Judiciary hearings last week have necessitated us taking a position. AFN joins our colleagues and friends across Indian country in strongly opposing Judge Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court because of, among other things, his views on the rights of Native peoples. […]During his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Judge Kavanaugh questioned the legitimacy of Native Hawaiian recognition, citing their different treatment by the federal government, and the fact that they do not live on reservations or enclaves. If he remains of the view that the special trust relationship only extends to Indian tribes with his brand of federal history, including territorial removal and isolation, he could very well rule that Congress lacks the authority to deal with Alaska Natives. This thinking could overturn much, if not all, of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, as well as all other federal legislation and regulations addressing Alaska Natives, tribes, corporations and organizations. To confirm a nominee who does not understand or appreciate the position of Native Hawaiians, and who could weaken the special trust relationship Alaska Natives share with the federal government, would be imprudent.

The statement concludes that, based on even the limited information released thus far, “his confirmation would be for Native peoples, particularly Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians.”

Why this is so significant for Murkowski is because the AFN was instrumental in supporting Murkowski’s historic write-in campaign in 2010, when she lost her primary to tea-party nutter Joe Miller. At the time, when she had just received their endorsement, Murkowski exclaimed “I will fight for you as long as I am able. I love you all.”

And then there is this breaking news today. Senate Democrats Have Referred A Secret Letter About Brett Kavanaugh To The FBI:

Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have referred a letter concerning Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the FBI.

The contents of the letter have been closely guarded by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, as well as California Rep. Anna Eshoo, who originally received the letter and shared it with Feinstein, according to sources familiar with the matter. But whispers of what it contains have made the rounds across Capitol Hill over the past week.

The attention on it burst into the public when the Intercept published a report on the rumors surrounding the letter on Wednesday.

“This matter has been referred to the FBI for investigation,” Sen. Dick Durbin told BuzzFeed News when asked about the letter on Thursday.

When asked whether they had received a referral of the letter or its contents, an FBI spokesperson confirmed Thursday afternoon that they had received “the information on the night of September 12.” The spokesperson added, “we included it as part of Judge Kavanaugh’s background file, as per the standard process.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee received the updated file on Thursday, a senior Republican aide told BuzzFeed News Thursday. All senators have access to that file — not just those on the committee — the aide added. Democrats on the Judiciary Committee had previously asked to see the letter, but Feinstein declined.

Typically, any new information added to the background file would also be sent to the White House, a senior administration official said. The official would not confirm whether the White House had yet received the document.

In a statement earlier Thursday, Feinstein confirmed that she had referred the letter to “federal investigative authorities.”

“I have received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,” Feinstein said. “That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision. I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”

BuzzFeed News contacted the woman believed to be the subject of the letter at her home last week. She declined to comment. BuzzFeed News has not been able to confirm the contents of the letter.

The lawyer believed to be representing the woman was seen leaving Capitol Hill Wednesday evening shortly after the Intercept story dropped and just as Judiciary Committee Democrats were huddling in the Senate lobby. The lawyer, Debra Katz, has not confirmed that she is representing the woman. She also declined to comment Wednesday, saying, “There’s nothing to say.”

When asked about the letter and the rumors surrounding its contents last week, Eshoo’s office said in a statement to BuzzFeed News, “Our office does not discuss casework.” They declined to comment further.

There is no criminal investigation into the letter, a source said.

The New York Daily News adds to the reporting, Brett Kavanaugh reportedly accused of sexual misconduct in letter flagged to the FBI by Democrats:

Democrats alerted the FBI on Thursday to decades-old sexual-misconduct allegations against President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, according to reports and a person familiar with the matter.

The potentially damning claims, which come as the Senate prepares to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the highest court in the land, were made in a letter obtained by Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic source told the Daily News.

Two officials briefed on the letter’s contents told the New York Times the allegations relate to possible sexual misconduct between Kavanaugh and an unidentified woman when they were both in high school.
The specific nature of the allegations was not immediately known. Kavanaugh, 53, graduated from Georgetown Preparatory, an all-boys Jesuit high school in North Bethesda, Md.

Feinstein (D-Calif.) informed her fellow committee Democrats about the letter late Wednesday, the sources said. Several of the Democrats advised her to contact the FBI.

An FBI official told The News there was no open criminal investigation into the matter as of Thursday evening. The letter was included in Kavanaugh’s background check file on Wednesday night, the official added.

The Democratic source said the letter was recently given to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who in turn handed it over to Feinstein.

Feinstein (D-Calif.) acknowledged in a statement that an individual who “strongly requested confidentiality” flagged information about Kavanaugh that she found concerning enough to contact “federal investigative authorities.”

A spokesman for Eshoo did not return a request for comment.

* * *

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said he still intends to hold a committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination Sept. 20. If confirmed by the committee, Kavanaugh’s nomination will be put up to a floor vote by the full Senate.

“At this time, he has not seen the letter in question, and is respecting the request for confidentiality,” a spokesman for Grassley said. “There’s no plan to change the committee’s consideration of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.”

UPDATE: The New Yorker reporters Ronan Farrow and Jane Meyer follow up on the letter, written by a woman living in California who was at a party with Kavanaugh when they were both in high school.

In the letter, the woman alleged that, during an encounter at a party, Kavanaugh held her down, and that he attempted to force himself on her. She claimed in the letter that Kavanaugh and a classmate of his, both of whom had been drinking, turned up music that was playing in the room to conceal the sound of her protests, and that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand. She was able to free herself. Although the alleged incident took place decades ago and the three individuals involved were minors, the woman said that the memory had been a source of ongoing distress for her, and that she had sought psychological treatment as a result.

In a statement, Kavanaugh said, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

This process needs to be slowed down and additional hearings scheduled. Per Buzzfeed:

A judicial nominee’s background file includes information that the FBI gathers during the background investigation, including information reported by the nominee, reports about the FBI’s interviews with other people about the nominee, and any documents or other materials that were turned over. Once the investigation is complete, the file is provided to the White House and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

It’s considered a highly sensitive file — only a handful of staff on the Senate Judiciary Committee are allowed to handle it, and it’s kept under lock and key in the White House and carried around in a bag with a lock on it. If senators have questions for a nominee about information in the file, they can ask about it during a nonpublic closed hearing that takes place as part of the confirmation proceedings.

And why not wait for the National Archives to complete its production of documents? What’s the rush? What is the GOP hiding?

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  1. Look, I know that other things are going on in the world. But this Kavanaugh/Supreme Court nomination and vote is, in my opinion, the most important matter that needs immediate settlement.

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