tv Senate Judiciary Committee Members on Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh CSPAN August 17, 2018 4:49pm-5:32pm EDT
trump has a rally in rest virginia scheduled for 7:00 p.m. eastern. we will also have that live. >> the senate judiciary committee met to discuss chairman chuck grassley's decision to limit the request for supreme court ca nominee brett kavanaugh's records. grassley said some are trying to stall the nomination for political reasons. dianne feinstein of california and patrick leahy of vermont spoke about the move to limit the request and called for full transparency leading into judge kavanaugh's confirmation hearing. this is about 40 minutes.
>> before we turn to today's his agenda, i would like to briefly speak on the supreme court nomination. i mentioned last week that judge kavanaugh's confirmation hearing will begin september 4. senators will have had by then 57 days between the announcement of judge kavanaugh's nomination, and the start of the hearing. this is a longer time than we had for justices kagan and gorsuch. this longer time is how, this is a time and another example that this is the most transparent confirmation process of all time. in 12 years on the d.c. circuit, judge kavanaugh issued more than 300 opinions and hundreds more. as senator schumer and way he said at the justice's confirmation hearing, in
nominee's judicial record is the best way to evaluate a nominee. judge kavanaugh also submitted more than 17,000 pages with his bipartisan judicial committee questionnaire, and that happens to be the most robust questionnaire given to a nominee. we have also received to enter -- nearly 250,000 pages of documents from judge kavanaugh's service in the executive branch. this is already more than any previous supreme court nominee, with many more documents yet to come. most already publicly available and we are working to make the vast majority of them publicly available as quickly as possible. we had plenty of time to review all of these materials before the hearing. the majority staff has already reviewed nearly 80% of them. unfortunately, some have tried to criticize what is the most transparent confirmation process.
where i think they're failing, they are failing because democratic leaders have made their true goal obvious. stall confirmation as long as possible in hopes the senate would flip in the midterm elections. i think they have tried to unsuccessfully apply the rule that bars confirmation during presidential election years. which they use to say they did not even exist to midterm elections and when that fell flat, they generated a controversy in a desperate attempt to delay the confirmation. lest there be any doubt, we're following the precent
established during justice kagan's nomination. we are requesting a significant number of judge kavanaugh's documents from his time in the executive branch. both sides agreed not to ask for internal documents from justice kagan's time in the solicitor general's office because of their sensitivity. likewise, we are not asking for judge kavanaugh's documents as secretary. these documents are more sensitive because they contain advice to the president and are at the heart of executive privilege. some say we need the documents because the judge stated in his time as secretary that those times were formative for him. justice kagan described her time as solicitor general as indicative as how she would serve as a justice. we still did not ask for her
solicitor general papers and we will not ask for judge kavanaugh's secretary papers. some of my colleagues have forgotten that we had a more compelling need for justice kagan's document because she had no judicial record, she had issued a zero opinions, and joined zero opinions at the time she was nominated. judge kavanaugh, by contrast, has issued over 300 opinions and joined hundreds more in the 12 years on the bench. despite having a less compelling need for them, the senate will still receive hundreds of thousands more pages of documents from judge kavanaugh's time as a government lawyer than we did from justice kagan. there have been some criticisms in the way with which this review is being handled. these are groundless. first of all, the national archives are not being cut out of the process.
the president is legally authorized to review these administration documents and decide which ones to release to the senate and claim that others are privileged. that is exactly what his team is doing now. additionally, some have labeled the attorney bill -- and he is a leading attorney in the review of president bush's documents as a partisan lawyer. from what i have found out from other people, he is a partner in one of the most lawful firms in the country and is one of president bush's presidential records act representatives since president bush left the white house in 2009. mr. burke handled the initial review of justice gorsuch's documents and there were no complaints about his doing that
at the time of justice gorsuch being considered by the committee. i do not recall complaints of partisan lawyers reviewing kagan's documents. the national director of president clinton's enactment to campaign, a person who helped fix things for the white house and longtime ceo of the clinton foundation reviewed justice kagan's documents. leslie kiernan, also prominent in democratic party politics, reviewed justice sotomayor's documents before the senate received them. if these individuals could review nominees' documents, before producing them to the senate, i think it is perfectly legitimate for mr. burke to do that as well. so i do not see rationale behind
the criticism. the following nominees will be held over. ryan nelson, ninth circuit, richard sullivan, second circuit, gary brown, east district of new york, steven clark, missouri, diane, to the eastern district, new york, eric kometi eastern district of new york, rachel, eastern district of new york, lewis, southern district, new york, john o'connor, northeastern and
western district of oklahoma. johnson, western district of new york, and mary. southern district of new york. josh, eastern district of pennsylvania, and james carroll, director of national drug policy. we do not have enough to do that at this time. they will be held over and we will reach that later on. we also have to consider 2961, victims of child abuse act reauthorization. that is on the agenda for the first time. the bill extends a program last authorized in 2013, which makes federal resources available for more than 850 children's advocacy centers across the country. these rely on multidisciplinary teams here to do forensic interviews of child abuse victims.
senator blunt introduces this bill as a sponsor along with senators kunz, carmen, also. it is now time for senator feinstein and other members to speak. senator feinstein. >> thanks very much, mr. chairman. i listened to your words with interest because i know you have a difference of opinion on the subject. judge kavanaugh's nomination hearing has been scheduled for september 4 and that is 19 days away. i want to say a few words about why the documents from his time in the white house should be publicly available in time for the hearing. the long-standing practice of the committee in the senate is to ensure as much transparency as possible. and to ensure that the senate and the american people have
access to a nominee's full record. you mentioned kagan. let me use her as an example. 99% of her white house record was provided to the committee and to the public prior to the hearing. those documents were reviewed and produced in the committee by the national archives and followed the requirements of the presidential records act. that practice appears not to be followed here. stat, under an agreement with a lawyer representing former president bush, as you pointed out, the committee has received roughly 174,000 pages from judge kavanaugh's tenure in the white house as of last evening. apparently, at 11:20, another 60,000 pages arrived last evening. this is just a small fraction. 19% of the request for judge kavanaugh's white house counsel documents. it is an even smaller fraction,
about 2%, of his total white house record. notably, what we now have is about the same number of pages for brett kavanaugh as we have for elena kagan. 170,000. that will be changed as you pointed out. but right now, that number represents 99% of the record in the white house, but represents only 2% of kavanaugh's white house record. my staff has been pouring over these records, nearly completed its review. some of the documents are useful in assessing judge kavanaugh's fitness for a lifetime to the supreme court. but it further confirms the need to obtain the full record to adequately assess the nominee and have these document publicly avail before the hearing. i regret the decision to
designate the vast majority of relevant documents as committee confidential. the irony is, there is no rule that defines what this means. but as of now, you have said only committee members and staff currently have access to these documents. my question for you, mr. chairman, is can we use these documents to question mr. kavanaugh at the hearing? to make a confirmation decision on a nominee based on secret documents not available to the public or the full senate, is extremely troubling. i participated in 10 supreme court nominations. i would like to take the opportunity to ask the chairman respectfully to ensure that the records are released before the hearing. in the same manner that has been done for previous supreme
court nominations. it may seem trivial to debate how many pages we can or cannot review or what is public and what is not public, but withholding even a small number of documents from the senate or public could prevent key facts from being known. this is true because there is so much at stake in this nomination. if confirmed, brett kavanaugh would be the deciding vote on cases involving individuals' rights to privacy, liberty, and autonomy in the most personal aspects of their lives. the fundamental rights guarantee that parents and not the state can direct the upbringing and education of their children that women can make their own reproductive health care choices and that all can marry whom they love and carry out medical decision-making without the
state. this nominee will also be the deciding vote in cases about whether federal agencies have the authority to curb climate change, protect consumers, safeguard workers rights, and let's not forget that judge kavanaugh would be the deciding vote in cases about voting rights and affirmative action. these are incredibly important issues for all americans. they define who we are as a nation and the extent of the freedoms that we all cherish under our constitution and laws. we have a constitutional duty to provided vice and consent on this nominee which requires a full vetting of his record and transparency and accountability to the american people. you are a fair man, mr. chairman. i know our letters showed disagreement but i'm hopeful that you can work to find a way
that key documents can be made available to the public before these hearings. we need to live up to the promise to provide an open and transparent and fair process. the american people deserve no less. >> the answer to your question is yes. we will work with you to make sure committee confidential records are available and i will expand on that by reading here. receive documents on a committee confidential basis to accelerate our review of these documents. maydocuments we received contain material which the presidential records act restricts from public access, including confidential advice given to the president as well as personal information, numbers and bank account numbers.
after producing the documents to the committee a second review is done to ensure they don't contain anything the review act restricts from public access. if they don't contain material, president bush authorizes the committee to release documents and we put them on the committee website as quickly as we can. if they contain restrictive material, the committee keeps them on a confidential basis to ensure the presidential review act, records act, requires to be kept nonpublic and does not become public. this is consistent with our practice in the gorsuch and kagan nominations where he received restricting material on a confidential basis. if we agree not to receive some presidential records act restrictive materials at all, in
other words, they didn't even come to the committee. when he explained his decision to receive documents on a committee confirmation basis, they said he did so to permit prompt access to them. . did it for the same reason i simply don't understand any complaints about getting records here quickly. you cannot simultaneously complain about not needing more time to review documents while also complaining we are getting documents too slowly. we're working to make as many documents as publicly available as quickly as possible. the following documents are already public.
over 11,000 pages of opinions of judge kavanaugh wrote or joined in and over 17,000 pages of materials submitted in response to his questionnaire, and over 125,000 pages of executive branch records. we will have more of these soon and we are receiving them quite regularly as you stated, but 11:00 last night on a rolling basis. >> thank you. >> who else wants to speak? senator leahy. go ahead. >> i have listened to the -- >> before you speak i want to ask unanimous consent since we don't have the proper number of people here for chairman leahy to speak.
i don't hear any objections, so proceed. sen. leahy: thank you. the senator from iowa and i have been good friends for decades, but i must admit, listening to his recitation of history -- i recall as a child, i remember enjoying reading alice in wonderland. listening to the statements here, it brings me back to a happier, in some ways, more realistic time, meaning alice in wonderland. there are so many things wrong with the judiciary committee's vetting of judge kavanaugh, it is hard to know where to begin. the white house is well aware of judge kavanaugh's lengthy record as a political operative,
but the president's elected him nonetheless. now the burden falls to this committee to review his record for the american people. today we are failing this. the full record is not some optional thing that we decide depending upon who the president might be. it is and should be a duty of the united states senate under our advise and consent clause. it is the most fundamental part of our constitutional obligation. to set the record straight things thatsome have been set, i worked with jeff sessions to request the full universe of justice kagan's documents from the clinton presidential library.
we receive 99% of them. they are available to everybody, republicans and democrats alike, on this committee. similarly, for justice sotomayor , i joined senator sessions and requested records from civil rights organization in the 1980's. for a civil rights organization in the 1980's, republicans want to see that record. i say ok, fine. that was despite the fact that she had issued more than 3000 opinions over 17 years as an appellate and district court judge. opinionssay those weren't worth looking at. we also think because republicans wanted all of the said ofnd on her, i course, supreme court nomination, let's get it.
it would appear to be blatantly partisan if the american people didn't see the same from judge kavanaugh. every document of public information should be made public. no abuse of executive privilege, no hiding. the american people deserve the truth, just like was demanded of president obama's nominees. it does not make any difference whether they are republican or democrat nominees. you should have all the facts. but, every republican applauded at the time this bipartisan openness. what republicans applauded at the time, now they have a different view. the committee is not on track
with the bipartisan standard of transparency that jeff sessions and i sent. in fact, far from it. just weeks ago, some of my republican friends expressed a willingness to express white house documents that the judge kavanaugh authored or contributed to as white house staff secretary. i applaud that. but whoops, in probably one of the fastest turns i've ever seen outside of a racetrack, that abruptly changed after a private meeting with the white house counsel on july 24. same republicans thought it was great to have these records -- , a fewy -- that was then minutes ago, and this is now. suddenly, all of the judge kavanaugh's records were off-limits, even those he authored. why were documents authored by
judge kavanaugh fair game going in, but off the table coming out? what was the quiet conversation there in the white house? , chairman grassley sent a request that omitted every single record from three secretary.aff this was an astonishing omission, given that judge kavanaugh himself describes his time as staff secretary the most formative for him as a judge. he provided advice on any issue that may cross the president's desk. it is bad enough and the story gets even worse.
for every supreme court nominee watergate -- since watergate, professional archivists have reviewed any associated records and provided them to the senate judiciary committee as required by statute. something that began because of what we learned in watergate. for the president and the committee for the first time ever, sidelining this nonpartisan process and save for the first time since watergate, we put back in a partisan process. a limited record the chairman has requested, national archives have stated, it is only completed a third of its review before the confirmation hearing, meaning two thirds would not be completed until october.
yet our committee is going ahead notwithstanding that. so we're saying let's have the hearing, let's discuss the evidence -- we don't have the evidence. we will have a hearing now and have the evidence after the hearing. let's have the verdict first and do the trial later. it is a sad commentary on this committee. i've been honored to serve on this committee for over 40 years under republican and democratic leadership. process begun after watergate, done to make sure you have everything, but in place of the national archives, we are told we must accept a political lawyer, handpicking what documents the senate and
the american people get to see. by any definition, the process is hopelessly conflicted. you wouldn't even be able to sell a story line for something like this for a movie or a television or a play, because it is too preposterous. by any definition -- look at the partisan lawyer is picking and choosing what we are going to see. he also represents steve bannon, reince priebus, and counselor mcgann in the russian investigation. he actually one time reported directly to judge kavanaugh on the white house. this lawyer is not even obligated to tell us what he is withholding and why. there is no requirement for privilege log.
the process is so extraordinary that the national archives released a statement yesterday. in nearly 44 years in the senate i've never seen a statement like this. which innal archives, a nonpartisan way, nothing to do with the documents currently ,eing supplied to our committee as a site arrangement put together by a partisan lawyer, is unprecedented. i would note the website maintained by the majority attempts to address this concern. the website is the archives will still act as a check against any partisan interference. if they are allowed to do their job, that might be true. given the chairman's hearing date, that statement is false. it is totally false.
the archives will conclude its review two months after the hearing and after the confirmation vote. we will have the conclusion and then we will hear the evidence. a check on partisan interference occurs a month after the final vote. that is no check at all. it really does not pass the giggle test. it is amazing. i've said here long time, he used respect for republicans and democrats i served with. but i can't think of any time we have seen something like this. i cannot think of anything like 390 in the 380 four
senators have had the privilege to serve with. i do not approach this conclusion lightly. i walked around the woods at my farm last week in vermont, thinking about this. i came to this conclusion. it is the most incomplete most partisan and least transparent vetting for any supreme court nominee i've ever seen. i have been here for every supreme court nominee since john paul stevens. i voted for most of them and democratic nominees, including chief justice. i'm mosthe reason concerned about it is there are questions about whether judge kavanaugh was truthful last time he testified before the senate.
we now know he provided a misleading account of his work at the bush white house. he gave that account under oath. the only way we're going to know the whole truth is with a full record. republicans rightly demanded that from justice kagan and sotomayor and i joined them on that you it is also what the american people rightly deserve from judge kavanaugh. there is still time to get this right. it may mean a consideration that judge kavanaugh does not occur in september. maybe a few weeks later but no need to rush. no extraordinary circumstances here that preclude the senate
from doing its job, what we are paid to do, what we are elected to do, what the american people expect us to do. nomineeident chose a with a lengthy partisan record. it does not excuse this committee from vetting such a record. we had some responsibilities in the senate that are routine. we had some that are extraordinarily can. the vote to go to war. the thing that is more important responsibility is how we vote on a lifetime employment to the supreme court. that is an important responsibility. i think we ought to demonstrate to the american people that we are willing to carry out our responsibility. we've done in the past in a bipartisan way.
let's at least have all of the facts out here. then every senator can vote the way she wants. i won't question any senators vote provided they have all of the facts when they vote. in a time in the american public raises questions about what is happening in washington, wouldn't it be nice for the american people to actually know what is behind the decision we make? and we can do that. it may take an extra week or two. so what? it is a lifetime appointment. we don't have lifetime appointments in the senate. some serve longer than others. see my good friend senator
kennedy smiling. i think i know what he's taking. the fact is this is a lifetime appointment. let's just get it right. thank you. sen. grassley: though we are one person short of the majority it takes, i don't know whether a chairman needs unanimous consent to respond, but i would like to respond. i hope people will hear me out. i don't feel comfortable using the alice in wonderland analysis. we have seven people here now. i do not have to ask unanimous consent. anyway, i don't feel comfortable using his alice in wonderland analysis, but if i were, i would start with the fact that the committee did not receive 99% of justice kagan's records. we didn't get her solicitor general records and we also did
not get 66,000 emails that mention her name. with judge kavanaugh, we have a 12 year record of his judicial work. we also have received up to one million pages of his records but ignoring the one million pages, i could at this time quote senator leahy at the time of judge sotomayor's quote. we have the judge's record from the federal bench. that is a public record that we have even before she was designated by the president. record ofmayor's restraint and modesty is best indication of judicial philosophy. we do not have to imagine what kind of a judge she will be because we see what kind of a
judge she has been. so it seems to me it is pretty clear that we have an equal amount of evidence to look at of judge kavanaugh's qualifications for being on the supreme court, and the amount of documents that we are going to have for judge kavanaugh is at least five times the number of records we have got for justice kagan and then we will get -- in other words, we going to get five times as much for judge kavanaugh as we got for justice kagan. that also adds up to something we think is more than the records for five previous supreme court justices. combined.
so i think that anybody saying we don't have records and a very good basis for hearing and determining what judge kavanaugh is all about being on the supreme court, and i will end with this. unsubstantiated questions about the accuracy of judge kavanaugh's testimony in 2006, do not require the productions of millions of pages from his position as white house staff, secretary. then, chairman leahy refuses, referred these allegations to the department of justice. the public integrity section determined there was not a sufficient basis to open up the criminal investigation. judge kavanaugh's response that
he wasn't involved in the rules governing detention must be read in the context of the questioning at his nomination hearing, senator durbin's questions related to the administration's policies on torture and abuse of treatment of detainees, judge kavanaugh responded that he was not involved in those policies. newspaper articles have reported that interrogation policies were highly compartmentalized in the white house, and judge kavanaugh was never authorized to know about them. in any event, the allegations are based on judge kavanaugh's time in the white house counsel's office and the committee has already requested documents from that time. i do not see anybody -- >> mr. chairman, following our normal procedure, you did say what percentage you got, but the
fact is, senator sessions, and i, requested the records from the clinton library, on now kagan, and we did get 99% of them. that is a fact. we can talk about how much we got or didn't get. the fact is jeff sessions and i requested it. i joined with him on the request. we got 99%. excused, i have a committee meeting to go to, as much as i hate to leave here. >> meeting adjourned.
>> chuck grassley expects judge kavanaugh's confirmation hearing to last three or four days. the confirmation hearing will begin september 4. 8:00 on c-span, maggie haberman talks about covering the white house. haberman: it is more or less they aresee, combative, and have transitioned from what has always