Politics

After Angry Beginning for Kavanaugh, Senators Duke It Out Over Process

Emotional Supreme Court nominee alleges conspiracy, Democrats circle back to Ford testimony

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the US Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, September 27, 2018. (POOL PHOTO/SAUL LOEB/AFP)

An emotional Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, after berating the Senate Judiciary Committee for “destroying” his name, said he would support a FBI investigation into the charges about alleged sexual misconduct.

“Senator, I’ll do whatever the committee wants. I wanted a hearing the next day,” he said of claims made by the first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. “Instead, 10 days passed.”

“I’m all in — immediately,” he said of a federal investigation that the White House would have to order, but has so far opted against doing.

His passionate remarks came under questioning from ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who called the panel’s inability to prove anything one way or another was “terrible,” because of its charter and resources.

Watch: Brett Kavanaugh's Full Opening Statement to Senate Judiciary

 

“We’re not able to prove it or disprove it,” Feinstein said.

The nominee called a fourth accusation that emerged Wednesday night alleging he drunkenly slammed a Boulder, Colo., woman against a wall after heavy drinking at a Washington area bar “a joke.”

[Under Questioning, Ford Recalls Kavanaugh ‘Having Fun at My Expense’]

Kavanaugh was collegial with Democrats during two days of confirmation testimony earlier this month. But on Thursday, he angrily interrupted Feinstein and at times glared at Democratic members of the committee.

The GOP side’s hired prosecutor handling their questioning asked him a series of pointed questions about Ford’s allegations, including whether he was ever alone in a room with her and his friend Mark Judge and whether he ever grinded his genitals against her.

Each time, he responded “no.”

Democratic member after Democratic member tried to use Kavanaugh’s own words in a yearbook to paint him as a heavy drinker — sometimes to excess or passing out. He denied ever passing out due to drinking.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and Kavanaugh clashed over whether Judge should have been forced to testify. The nominee noted his friend had provided a statement; Leahy responded by saying that is not how the panel has operated in his decades as a member and said he wanted to hear from Judge under oath. He also asked whether the character Bart O’Kavanaugh in Judge’s book “Wasted” was the judge. 

Kavanaugh chided Leahy for “making fun of a guy” who had an addiction problem, referring to Judge. Leahy brushed that aside and said he just wanted a yes or no answer. 

“I’m [not] going to talk about my high school [years] if you’re going to sit here and mock me,” Kavanaugh said, yelling over Leahy. “Let me finish,” he said a moment later as Leahy pointed to a lewd entry in a yearbook.

Basing a Supreme Court nomination on a high school yearbook, the nominee said, would amount to “a new level of absurdity.”

Leahy shot back that “we got a filibuster but not a single answer.”

Senators start yelling

Grassley grew angry after Sen. Richard J. Durbin suggested Kavanaugh, if he is open to an investigation, turn to White House Counsel Don McGahn and request President Donald Trump order a FBI probe.

“This committee is running this hearing,” Grassley roared.

For the first time, a GOP senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, took the floor to question Kavanaugh directly.

He asked him if Feinstein asked him about the Ford allegation during a private meeting in August; the nominee said no. “This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics,” he yelled.

Graham then asked if Kavanaugh is a “gang rapist;” he replied no. (Another accuser said she said Kavanaugh line up for those kinds of attacks.)

“God, y’all want power and I hope you never get it,” an angry Graham said.

“These have been my friends, but when it comes to this, if you’re looking for a fair process, you came to the wrong town at the wrong time,” he added, addressing Kavanaugh.

Pointing his finger for emphasis, Graham sent a message to his GOP colleagues, some of whom might be on the fence on the nomination: “If you vote no, you’re legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics.”

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, a former Texas attorney general, called the hearing a “sham” and told the nominee “you’re right to be angry” because the 10-day span between the first allegation and the hearing made things “worse.”

Once Republicans began using their own time, they repeatedly hammered Feinstein for not letting other members know about the Ford letter. “You’ve been treated unfairly,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said.

“Let me be clear, I did not hide Dr. Ford’s letter. ... She asked me to keep it confidential, and I kept it confidential, as she asked,” Feinstein shot back.

She said it was the media’s pursuit of the story that led Ford to go public; the accuser, earlier in the day, did point to reporters “talking to her dog” through a window and showing up in her graduate school class as a reason she held the letter.

“I did not,” Feinstein pointedly told Cornyn after he said “if you didn’t leak it, somebody did.”

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