Democratic Leaders on Judge Kavanaugh CSPAN July 31, 2018 7:29pm-8:01pm EDT
follow the confirmation process on c-span leading up to the senate confirmation hearings and the vote. watch live on c-span, anytime on c-span.org, or listen anytime with the free c-span radio app. earlier today, senate minority leader chuck schumer called on republicans to release all documents from supreme court nominee brett kavanaugh's time in the white house while serving under president george w. bush. he was joined by democrats and legal experts during this hearing. morning to one and all on a beautiful summer's morning in washington dc. i had a joke, but i will skip it. it relates to d.c., but another time. i want to thank my dear colleague, our ranking member, outstanding leader on so many of these issues, ranking member --
hopefully chair soon enough -- you are underestimating us, you press people. ranking member of the judiciary committee, mr. richard durbin. also longtime judiciary committee member -- you are. no, i said no. i said, longtime member of judiciary committee. >> [applause] the leadership: conference on civil rights, alliance for justice, and people for the american way. thank you all for joining us. we have invited these legal experts to speak today, because what we are here to discuss isn't political. it is about the constitutional duty of the united states senate to advise and consent on the most important issues that ever
comes before us, a nomination of a supreme court justice. in order to fulfill that duty, the senate must have the records spanning judge kavanaugh's career as a public servant, including his time as staff secretary for the bush administration. just this morning, senator feinstein released a letter to the national archives, signed by all members of the senate judiciary committee, including longtime member dick durbin. thank you. requesting the full set of documents. senator feinstein's leadership on this issue has been extraordinary. before we continue, i want to how clear for just a sec aggressive the obstruction is. as you know, breaking all historical precedent, chairman grassley has made it partisan request to the national archives
, requesting only a small portion of george kavanaugh's time in the white house - -judge kavanaugh's time in the white house. from his time as a council office, but not as staff secretary. he held that job for three of the five years he worked for president bush. so deliberately ignoring the nominee's record during that period would be bad enough, but in this case, it is only the tip of the iceberg. before the senator sent his library had bush already turned over all the white house counsel's office documents to a team of lawyers, led by one, mr. bill burke. ke. berg represents - -bur represents president bush, a strong supporter of judge
kavanaugh. he also represents steve bannon, reince priebus, and donald mcgann in the russia probe. this group has prescreened these documents. so we are having a republican lawyer who works for so many republicans on so many different this group has prescreened these documents. issues prescreened these documents. at this point, we have no assurance of being told which documents we will be allowed to see and which documents the american people will be allowed to see, which documents were withheld and why they were withheld. this would not be so bad if we did not get a full set of documents from the archives. it appears the vast majority of documents congress will actually be permitted to see are the documents turned over to us by a lawyer with close ties to both president bush and president
trump, as well as mr. van. . bannon. because of intentional delays in obstruction, the vast majority of documents congress will get to review will have been screened by the personal lawyer of george bush, steve bannon, reince priebus, and more, hardly an impartial screener. what are they hiding? why is there such an effort not to have the documents, forward -- come forward, when that has been the bipartisan precedent of this party for past nominees? all of a sudden they have changed the rules. these papers don't belong to brett kavanaugh, donald trump, george bush, they belong to the american people. that is why we have an archives. you can't just turn off and turn
on what you want people to see. that doesn't happen in democracy. that is what our republicans are doing. nothing like this has ever happened in this history of supreme court nominations. it begs the question, what are they trying to hide? what is in those documents, that if they came forward, senators might not want brett kavanaugh to be on the supreme court? on the issue of documents, the republicans are putting the secret in secretary. we cannot, cannot let that stand a nation that stands for openness, transparency, and f ull and free debate, particularly to one of the most important positions in the united states government. senator feinstein. senator feinstein: thanks very
much senator schumer. thise begin with this -- is nothing that is different. that stands for openness,this is usual procedur. the letter that senator schumer i even asked the staff questions, are you sure this is the same as was sent out by republicans on the kagan nomination? i have been a short it is identical. -- assured it is identical. we believe it is our job to review all pertinent information as part of the kavanaugh review process. this should include documents during his three years as staff secretary. staff secretary is a top white house advisor. it doesn't just write memos. it rewrites memos, puts its own views into memos.
the staff secretary often is present, makes statements, so there is real value in this information. some republicans say we want everything but the kitchen sink. that isn't true. we want the same formula that was used for justice kagan. we want to be able to look and see what his knowledge is on key issues, and also what he thinks. these are issues like the cia torture program. i was chairman of the intelligence committee for the six years that underwent what is a 7000 page report on torture. senator durbin, senator leahy have asked questions. they deserve an answer. it is relevant. don't want to review these documents, they don't have to. but it is wrong to stand in the way of senators who do want to
review the full record. nominations. on 10 eight of those nominees made it to the court. thing thee biggest judiciary committee actually does during its tenure. it is the examination of a president's nominee to the highest court of the land, the defender of the constitution of the united states. to knowwe are entitled what that person believes, what he has written, s what he has said, particularly in any form or capacity. thank you very much. senator durbin: thanks for the opportunity to be here. unlike diane, i have only had seven nominees to the supreme
court, one of which withdrew, but i noticed something. during our efforts to review these nominees for the supreme court, we were dedicated to disclosure and transparency. to the point where senator jeff sessions, then ranking member on the committee when elana kagan was before us, asked for detailed information about her service in the white house. i believe 170,000 pages of documents were produced from her service in the white house, at the request of senator sessions, and with the cooperation of senator leahy. it was a bipartisan basis. there wasn't a single assertion of executive privilege on any document. it was all there for everyone to review, as it should have been. when sonja sotomayor was before us, she had a judicial record, but they wanted more. it was senator sessions who said, i want to go back to history when she worked for the
puerto rican legal defense fund. i want documentation from that experience. it was produced on a bipartisan basis. we were dedicated to disclosure and transparency. the american people expect us more than anybody else to give careful review of these supreme court nominees. they know what is at stake. this is a lifelong decision. it is likely this supreme court vacancy will be filled for the life of many living american and generations otherwise. we know what is at stake here. it is a big deal, not just in 10 year -- in tenure, but on the issues. there are critical issues that this court will decide, and discharge could be the swing -- this judge could do the swing vote. i have spoken to senator grassley personally about this. was 12 years ago when judge
kavanaugh appeared before this judiciary committee seeking the d.c. court of appeals. at the time, i was concerned about his time in the white house as role of staff secretary. asked specifically to mr. kavanaugh whether or not he was involved. he went further than answering yes or no. he said, i am not involved in the rules governing the tension of combatants. that -- detention of combatants. that was a statement under oath. he went to be approved by the senate to take his seat on the d.c. court of appeals. in a few months, we found out there was more to the story. we found out he was personally present in a heated exchange in the white house about representation of these combatants, and he volunteered information about what he thought justice kennedy might do
if confronted with that question. the statement he made under oath was contradicted, verified by the national public radio. obviously it raised the question mind, what is going on here? the question i got from judge kavanaugh under oath was contradicted by later evidence. i wrote him a letter. judge kavanaugh, could you please mind, what is going on here? the question i got from judge kavanaugh explain the discrepan? i did not get an answer to that letter over the next 11 or 12 years. i cannot get an answer now when he comes before the committee. -- think i will get an answer now when he comes before the committee. senator leahy sent a letter on the same subject directed to mr. kavanaugh personally. he was involved in more than just shuffling papers, he decided what the president would read, and what the staff proposed to the president. is this relevant to the
conversation about his service on the supreme court? exactly relevant. under oath, heunder oath, he st, and now we have somewhat contradictory evidence to the contrary. we have a bipartisan standard we have used over and over with supreme court nominees. unfortunately we are in a position where this administration and this leadership in the senate has decided to change the rules. it doesn't help us do our job. senator durbin: thank you, dick. before we call onour -- call on our guests, could you move over a bit? these are the missing empty record boxes. we want them filled with records. >> [laughter] haveor schumer: we now
kristine lucius with us from the leadership conference on civil and human rights. durbin, yourenator comments take me back to the confirmation hearing, and what a stunning moment it was when he responded to your question with a blanket denial of any involvement. that is a great reminder for anyone wondering if we should judge brett kavanaugh's responsiveness by the number of pages, or judge it by the completeness of the record. your complete question definitely needs answering. someone that could not be honest under oath -- should they be given a promotion? i work at the leadership conference on civil and human rights, which is a coalition of over 200 national organizations working toward an america as good as its ideals.
before this job i worked here for 14 years in the senate judiciary committee. i worked on six different supreme court nominations. on friday evening, when chairman grassley broke with committee practice and issued a partisan request for a very narrow set of , i am sad his request to say, i believe is designed to hide three years of brett kavanaugh's work as a senior political appointee. kavanaugh himself has said his work as white house staff secretary was the most useful to have as a judge. perhaps it is because these three years or so informative that the people who picked him, who selected him for this nomination, want it hidden. a -- it hidden. and thesenators
american people deserve to know brett kavanaugh's for record before the hearing is scheduled. this is very important. there should be no rush to judgment with a and the american lifetime appointment of this importance. to add insult to injury, what senator schumer referenced, is they are not even going through the same process with the national archives. instead we have a team led by a republican attorney, who represents many former trump administration officials, and also former judge kozinski. this lawyer is president bush's representative, who is reviewing the documents. this person does not owe a duty to the national public like the way the national archives would. we have real concerns about what documents would be withheld. this run down the national archives and and erin -- the narrow partisan requests leads
us to ask, what is the chairman these to hide in the role 99 other senators need to play? it should not be a partisan decision on transparency. all 100 senators have a duty to the american people they represent to independently vet this nomination. ago, we saw an appellate nominee who was withdrawn because of things in his written record. so we had a bipartisan concern that saw an appellate nominee who was what was in this nominee's record was disqualifying to be a judge. why wouldn't the same thing apply to the supreme court justice? i is time that every senator and the american people they represent understand their role and convince the chairman of the senate judiciary committee that
they need to see the full record. i think senator feinstein's request today, that they see the missing three years that were not requested by the chairman -- that needs to be heard, not just in the press that follows supreme court issues, but outside the beltway as well. people need to know what they are hiding, and why they are trying to hide it. i bet the people that selected this nominee are fully aware of what is in that record. it seems to me senators should have the same access tas those that selected this nominee have. senator schumer: have daniel goldberg for the alliance for justice. >> thank you very much senator schumer, senator feinstein, and really the entire democrats on committee.judiciary i committee.
i legal director for the alliance for justice, a nationwide alliance representing hundred 30 groups -- 130 groups committed to justice and civil rights. afj has fought for fair-minded judges. we financed judges who would take this country backwards. part of this missing -- this mission is ensuring the american people will know afj has foughtr fair-minded judges. we a nominee will fully uphold rights and protections. today we are deeply concerned that the public is being prevented from seeing brett kavanaugh' entire records. senator grassley made a unilateral decision not to request details from kavanaugh's tenure as safed secretary to president bush. kavanaugh himself says that jump was critical. giveob "was to recommendation and advice to the president.
orther it was terrorism medicare prescription drug coverage," he spent a good time on capitol hill, sometimes in the middle of the night, working on legislation. kavanaugh was a critical official in the bush administration. the public has a right to know. d puttingrk towar commission toward lgb to -- lgbt q individuals in the constitution? did he work on opposing hate crime legislation? i would like to make one additional, critical point. some are saying this request for kavanaugh's record is the most extensive ever. don't believe it. comparable letters to what was sent for elena kagan's documents and what was produced in elena kagan's confirmation. in the bipartisan request to
kagan, all documents kagan orte, edited or prepared under her supervision were askef d for. not this time. kagan was asked for documents she created that are in other people's files. she was asked for documents that referenced her. not this time. those requests were not made to brett kavanaugh. as has been discussed by senator schumer and kristine, during the kagan nomination, nonpartisan national archives staff provided documents. this time president bush's former lawyers are trying to take the lead. does anyone doubt the documents are being thoroughly prescreened? in march, chairman chuck grassley said "i have learned
over the years that transparency doesn't come easy. it requires constant oversight and pressure from the public, the press, and congress." we agree with chuck grassley. this is a lifetime appointment that will alter our democracy, rule of law, rights, and legal protections for every single american. it is time to release all the records. thank you again. >> thank you very much, senator. let me generally thank the senators for inviting me and my colleagues to participate. i am senior counsel and senior fellow at people for the american way. i have been involved in supreme court judicial nominations, literally, as some know, for more than 30
years. in all of that 30 years, i have never seen a more partisan and restrictive process for the production know, for more than 0 years. of documents by an administration on supreme court nominee, in all of that period of time. i won't repeat the specifics the others went into, but i want to underline the importance of getting the documents as as staff's time secretary by borrowing documents on oversight of the bush administration in its last year's. one issue we did a lot of abuse on --a lot of reviews that record relates to kavanaugh 's service as a judge. in one of his dissents as a judge in the d c circuit upholding the affordable care act, kavanaugh wrote "i think if a president doesn't want to enforce the ac in the futurea
and deems it unconstitutional, he can do that, even if courts say the contrary." that is strikingly similar to the statements the bush administration pushed very heavily when it was in office, as both of our committees on judiciary found as we looked into the issue. it is directly relevant to his views as a judge what his views were on signing statements back when he was the one that was responsible for getting the final form of the statements to the president for him to take a look at, reveal, and -- review, and sign. of seeingal nature all of these documents. some pieces of paper will take five seconds to take a look at and turn aside, but there are substantive documents for the period of time he was staff
secretary, as well as white house counsel, that are critical to the senate and american people if we are to confirm judge kavanaugh for a lifetime seat on the supreme court. senator schumer: one other point i would like to add. yesterday i called up the archivist of the united states , once the letter arrived, to do the right thing, to let us in the american people see the documents. he has some jurisdiction. library and this lawyer and others may be standing in his way with claims of privilege for whatever, but the archivist is supposed to work for the public. the archives belong to the american people. thank you. -- elliott.ll trades
i asked him to make it public. whatid, regardless of chuck grassley believes and regardless of what, frankly, and judgebush kavanaugh feels. he said he would get back to me at the end of the week. questions? >> what recourse do you have if he says no? senator schumer: recourse is the american people let their senators know they want to see these documents. our next recourse will be to ask justice kavanaugh a lot of questions. we know these judicial nominees study carefully answers and often danced around the questions. the documents are a very good way to do this. >> as chairman grassley has said
repeatedly, these are huge documents that create a cost to the taxpayer. is there a way to narrow the ones you are highlighting? senator schumer: chairman grassley did not seem to feel that way when hundred 70,000 170,000 elena kagan -- pages of elena kagan's documents were sent to congress. this double standard reeks. ask, what are they hiding? they could sign a letter with us right away, and we could work on a process to go through the documents very quickly. the intent here is sunlight, not delay. >> [inaudible] ask, what are they hiding? senator schumer: senator feinstein had, and i talked to him on the floor. i believe he knows it is the right thing to do, but he's being pressured and is uncomfortable with it. that is what i would like to
believe. are the democrats holding off? senator schumer: they are hoping they can get the documents. we will see what happens by the end of the week. grassley say to you when you talked to him on the floor? senator schumer: he said apples and oranges. he said being secretary is different than being in the council's office. republicans asked for all of kagan's documents and went back to the sotomayor days. what he said did not have any basis in history. okay? thank you everybody. i've got to go vote. >> thank you very much senator. senator schumer: ok. thank you.
the empty boxes are here with you, looming large. >> brent cobb not continues to meet with senators on capitol hill -- rhett cavanagh continued to meet with senators on capitol hill. watch live on c-span. watch anytime on c-span.org or listen with the free c-span radio app. >> tonight on c-span, nasa administrator looks at the future of his agency. reviews theommittee zero tolerance policy that has separated migrant families at the u.s. mexico border. and talking about the recent documentary following immigrant
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