Senate Judicatory Committee Democrats tried to hijack U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing Tuesday before it began, with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and audience protesters shouting and speaking over panel chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).
Harris trampled on Grassley’s opening comments in seeking to introduce Kavanaugh, shouting “Mr. Chairman, I’d like to be recognized for a question before we proceed. The committee received just last night, less than 15 hours ago, 42,000 pages of documents that we have not had the opportunity to review or read or analyze. We can not proceed forward with the hearing. We have not been given the opportunity to have a meaningful hearing on this nominee.”
Harris was then was joined by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) in trying to force a delay in the hearing or its adjournment. Many of the panel’s Democrats said they would vote against Kavanaugh before the hearing began.
Hundreds of thousands of documents concerning Kavanaugh — far more than for any previous Supreme Court nominee — have been provided to the panel, yet none of the committee’s Democrats have read any of the 147,000 provided by President Donald Trump under executive privilege and available for reading in a secure room in the Capitol, according to The Wall Street Journal. But delaying the hearing in order to give Democrats time to read the documents was the central demand in their disruption of the proceedings.
“Mr. Chairman, if we cannot be recognized I move to adjourn,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said. “Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn. Mr. Chairman, we have been denied real access to the requested documents, which turns this hearing into a mockery of our norms. Mr. Chairman, I, therefore, move to adjourn this hearing.”
Blumenthal finished speaking shortly before the entire hearing had to stop as an audience protester was removed. Blumenthal then asked for a roll call vote to adjourn for the day. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) asked why the hearing was being rushed.
“Mr. Chairman, I appeal to be recognized on your sense of decency and integrity,” Booker said. “Even the documents you requested, the limited documents you have requested, this committee has not received. And the documents we have limited. This process should be transparent. This committee is a violation of the values I have heard you talk about.”
The Democrats were referring to an ongoing dispute over records from when Kavanaugh worked for former President George W. Bush. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who isn’t on the committee, has been at the forefront of the push, even urging lawmakers not to meet with him until his full record is revealed.
“You spoke on my decency and integrity, and I think you are taking advantage of my decency and integrity,” Grassley said over more shouting from the audience and other Democrats on the panel.
“I would ask that you stop so we can conduct the hearing like we planned it. I know it’s probably not going the way the minority would like it to go. But we have said for a long time that we were going to proceed on this very day,” he said.
Republicans such as Grassley view the Democrats’ constant calls for delaying the process as nothing more than a partisan move. Grassley has previously claimed Kavanaugh submitted the most robust bipartisan committee questionnaire ever by a judicial nominee, at roughly 17,000 pages.
Grassley has contended that the committee has been getting a record number of documents, with 200,000 pages of executive branch materials already being made public. Attorney Bill Burck is reviewing the requested documents to be released to the committee since they are under executive privilege.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) was followed by a growing list of others within his party July 30, when he became the first Democrat to meet with Kavanaugh. Schumer did eventually meet with him on August 21, despite his own calls for other lawmakers not to do so. But his opposition hasn’t wavered, and he has even been threatening to sue the National Archives for the documents.
Democrats pushing for his executive branch documents haven’t been satisfied with how much has been delivered and even the contents of what they have received. Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) issued a statement August 27 asking Burck to explain all redactions and alterations to the documents given to the committee.