Politics

Schlapp Spars with CNN’s Berman Over Kavanaugh Accusers

ACU chief says last-minute, unproven allegations are 'not an appropriate way for us to consider people for the Supreme Court'

Image Credit: CNN

A tense debate between American Conservative Union (ACU) Chairman Matt Schlapp (pictured above right) and CNN anchor John Berman (above left) over whether Democrats “maul” GOP Supreme Court nominees’ characters descended into chaos during a segment Monday on CNN’s “New Day.”

“What Democrats do is they go after these Republican nominees. They maul their characters. They make charges — sometimes the charges are eerily similar,” Schlapp argued. “I know [Supreme Court nominee] Brett Kavanaugh. I know his character. Why are all these charges coming out at the very tippy-top at the end of the process?”

“I’ll tell you why — he’s the fifth constitutionalist vote on the court. [Supreme Court Justice] Neil Gorsuch was the fourth,” Schlapp added. “Brett Kavanaugh was the fifth. He’s guilty of being the personification of the fight between the blue and red, and it is not an appropriate way for us to consider people for the Supreme Court.”

President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh July 9 to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. But the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh were not revealed publicly until late in the 11th hour of his confirmation process.

Christine Blasey Ford, who initially wished to remain anonymous, publicly accused Kavanaugh on September 16 of sexually assaulting her some 36 years ago at a high school party in suburban Maryland.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee considering Kavanaugh’s nomination, received Ford’s allegations in July but did nothing with them publicly until September 14.

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Kavanaugh denied Ford’s accusations “categorically and unequivocally.” He maintains that he has “never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone.”

Kavanaugh’s confirmation experienced another setback late Sunday when former Yale classmate Debbie Ramirez accused him in an article for The New Yorker of exposing himself to her at a party in college.

Berman asked Schlapp to respond to the backlash he fielded after he tweeted Sunday, “This Kavanaugh confirmation has transformed into a disgrace. How is it when Dems win their SC noms get an easy time, but ours get mauled.”

Many Americans accused Schlapp of overlooking GOP senators’ decision to tank former President Barack Obama’s final Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, because the 2016 presidential election was only a few months away. Republicans said the new president, who at the time appeared almost certain to be former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, should be able to select the new nominee.

“John, name the other Democratic pick that the Republicans knocked back? I will wait for the answer,” Schlapp replied as he and Berman began talking over each other.

“But Matt, listen, I hear you … Let me ask this. We are talking about the last two Supreme Court nominees. One was Merrick Garland, nominated by a Democrats that did not get a hearing, and one was Neil Gorsuch, who soared through.”

Schlapp argued that “any reporter that fails to give the full picture of how Supreme Court Republican nominees are treated in juxtaposition to how Democratic nominees are treated is doing a disservice.”

“In my lifetime, Republicans have knocked back one nominee — Merrick Garland. You know what? He’s a fine judge. He’s a good human being. Nobody ever questioned his character. No one ever said he broke the law,” Schlapp said. “What they simply said is they wanted to follow the Biden rule because the opening happened too close to the election.”

Schlapp was referring to a June 25, 1992, floor speech by then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), who said: “It is my view that if a Supreme Court justice resigns tomorrow, or within the next several weeks, or resigns at the end of the summer, President [George H.W.] Bush should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not — and not — name a nominee until after the November election is completed.”

After noting that Democrats viewed Kavanaugh as “the personification of the fight between the blue and red,” Berman argued that Garland “was also the personification of blue versus red.”

“Merrick Garland was nominated three months before — earlier in the process — than Joe Biden when he made that floor speech …” Berman began before Schlapp interrupted, saying, “Can I refute?”

Related: CNN Panel Explodes Over Kavanaugh Accuser’s ‘Complicity’

“There’s nothing to refute. You can refute, but you’d be wrong. Because all of those statements are factually correct,” Berman retorted. “I guess your standard now, just to be clear … is if it’s the swing vote, that’s what you’re saying, the swing vote is what matters?

No. What I’m saying is for Democrats is that they know that a swap for a constitutionalist like Brett Kavanaugh for Anthony Kennedy means that if you look at the decisions over the course of the last 25 years, you would actually have five justices who have a reputation for having an original understanding of the Constitution and upholding that in their decisions.

Schlapp said that Democrats “know how important the stakes are for the issues they care about that go before the court” and how Kavanaugh’s confirmation as the fifth constitutionalist judge on the court would change everything.

“It means that we’re politicizing every aspect of the supreme Court,” Schlapp insisted. “If you’re qualified to be on the court, that should be what matters.”

The segment continued to sour further after that as Schlapp snapped at Berman, saying “Don’t put words in my mouth.” Watch more in the video below:

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