Todd Ruger

Grassley Threatens Monday Kavanaugh Vote if Ford Does Not Testify
As negotiations over testimony continue, panel officially postpones hearing

The Senate Judiciary Committee has postponed its hearing on Monday, which was scheduled to hear from Brett Kavanaugh, nominee to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and the woman accusing him of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Judiciary Committee has postponed its hearing, set for Monday, that would have featured Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused him of sexually attacking her decades ago. And in a sign that Senate Republicans are playing hardball to get Ford to agree to their terms to testify, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley has scheduled a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination in the event there is no deal with Ford. 

The notice included no reschedule date and came out amid reports that the panel and Ford’s attorneys did not meet a panel-set 5 p.m. deadline to agree to terms.

Power, Confirmation & Lies
High court confirmation battle comes to a head, and the midterms loom, kind of

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., hold a press conference with Holton-Arms alumnae in support of Christine Blasey Ford in the Hart Senate Office Building on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

 

After what seems like a nonstop election cycle since Nov. 9, 2016, with several special elections since then and a president that never seems to tire of political events, it’s safe to say even politics junkies are looking forward to Nov. 6, the day of the congressional midterms. Except … it might not even be over then, according to Roll Call elections analyst Nathan L. Gonzales, who says the number of close House races and likely runoffs might preclude us from knowing who will be in control of Congress for maybe weeks to come. Thanks, Nathan. 

Judiciary Staffer’s Tweets Fuel Fight Over Kavanaugh Accuser
‘Unfazed and determined. We will confirm Judge Kavanaugh,’ committee’s chief staffer says.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, walks to the floor for a vote after a meeting in Majority Leader McConnell's office in the Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Amid a pitched partisan battle over how the Senate handles an allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman decades ago as a teenager, liberal groups on Thursday seized on comments from a Judiciary Committee staffer to paint the process as a sham.

Mike Davis, the committee’s chief staffer for nominations, tweeted twice overnight about his key role in the committee’s review of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation, as well as criticism of Ford’s attorneys and his desired outcome of the process.

High Court, High Political Drama — Probably for Years to Come
Political Theater, Episode 37

Regardless of the fate of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the high court figures to be a more prominent, and political, part of American life for the foreseeable future. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the middle of a singularly rough Supreme Court nomination fight, the business of the high court goes on. The fate of Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s second nominee to the court, is still up in the air. But the  direction of the court, regardless of what happens with Kavanaugh, seems to be moving inexorably negative, at least politically, say CQ legal affairs writer Todd Ruger and senior writer Kate Ackley in the latest Political Theater podcast.

 

Kavanaugh Is Already Reshaping the Supreme Court
As Trump’s pick defends himself, justices will meet behind closed doors

Nominee Brett Kavanaugh will be on the justices’ minds as they meet to set the agenda for the Supreme Court’s coming term. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

On the same day the Senate Judiciary Committee plans a televised hearing on a sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the eight current members of the high court will meet behind closed doors to discuss which new cases to hear.

The confluence of those events set for Monday underscores how the high-profile political fight over Kavanaugh’s nomination will also color the public perception of the Supreme Court, and could prompt the justices to steer clear of more controversial cases in the coming term that starts in October.

Kavanaugh, Ford Will Appear Before Judiciary Committee in Public
Supreme Court nominee, woman who accused him of sexual assault will be heard out

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was among the senators calling for a public hearing about the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Judiciary Committee will have a public hearing Monday, Sept. 24, on the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, a former Judiciary Committee chairman, confirmed the scheduling update to reporters on Monday evening. The news broke after senators had arrived back at the Capitol Monday afternoon and after a meeting of Judiciary Committee Republicans in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office about how to proceed in light of allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford.

Trump, White House Will Let Senators Resolve Kavanaugh Fracas
President sharply questions top Judiciary Democrat Feinstein’s tactics

President Donald Trump greets Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his family while announcing his nomination to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on July 9. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump and his White House staff have handed Senate Republicans the reins, hoping they can steer Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh around sexual misconduct allegations and onto the high court.

Trump remained silent about allegations made by Kavanaugh’s accuser for most of Monday before the president backed delaying the confirmation process — which had included a planned Thursday vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee — so senators can hear from Kavanaugh and accuser Christine Blasey Ford. But Trump also called the notion of withdrawing the nomination “ridiculous.”

Senate Scrambles for Next Move With Kavanaugh Nomination in the Balance
Growing number of senators say accuser, judge should be able to have say

The Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh hung in the balance on Monday as senators sorted out the chamber's next move in light of sexual assault allegations against the judge. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The most important of those voices was Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, who said Christine Blasey Ford, a California college professor, deserves to be heard after coming forward publicly with the allegation over the weekend.

“So I will continue working on a way to hear her out in an appropriate, precedented and respectful manner,” Grassley said in a news release.

Republicans Face Critical Moment With Kavanaugh
Allegation against Supreme Court nominee heaps cultural importance on what senators do

Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh meets with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Judiciary Committee, in July. Graham said on Sunday that he is willing to hear Kavanaugh’s accuser, but said that should happen “immediately.” (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS: President Donald Trump’s pick for a pivotal spot on the Supreme Court already put the Senate at the confluence of the nation’s contentious political and legal movements.  But a woman’s allegation of sexual assault by Brett Kavanaugh  — dating back decades to when he was a teenager — heaps cultural importance as well on what senators do at this moment.

Senators, particularly Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Republicans who have relentlessly insisted on a confirmation vote this month, now have to decide what to do amid a “Me Too” movement that has exposed how these types of allegations have been hidden, mishandled or simply ignored by powerful men in the past. 

Senators Seek Allegation Details Before Kavanaugh Vote
Arizona Republican Jeff Flake joins Democrats’ calls to delay committee vote

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is among Democratic lawmakers who want to delay the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 11:51 p.m. | Republican Sen. Jeff Flakejoined calls from Democrats on Sunday to hit pause on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination to get more information from a woman who went public with details of an alleged sexual attack by Kavanaugh decades ago when they were both in high school.

The comments by the Arizona lawmaker, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, are the first sign of trouble for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s push for a confirmation vote on Kavanaugh this month.