Our D.C. Bureau Dems say emails link Kavanaugh to stolen documents
WASHINGTON — Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Tuesday cited emails that he argued undercut Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s statements that as a White House official under President George W. Bush, he did not know intelligence he received on judicial nominations had been stolen.
Blumenthal, D-Conn., a Senate Judiciary Committee member who was among Kavanaugh’s questioners at confirmation hearings last week, told reporters in Hartford that Kavanaugh had been “evasive and apparently misleading” in his testimony.
“There’s no question stolen documents in fact were provided to Judge Kavanaugh when he worked in the White House,” Blumenthal said at a news conference. Despite Kavanaugh’s denials at the hearings last week, “on the face of the documents, seemingly he had to know,” Blumetnahl said.
For Blumenthal and other Senate Democrats hoping to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination, revelations of emails contradicting sworn testimony may be too little, too late. Democrats fear that if confirmed, Kavanaugh would represent a fifth, decisive conservative vote that could overturn cherished liberal precedents such as Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide.
Kavanaugh’s fate rests in the hands of a few centrist Republican and Democratic senators, none of whom so far have committed to vote for or against President Donald Trump’s second high-court nominee. But none of them have stated that any documents revealed so far on Kavanaugh’s years in the Bush White House alter their views of the 53-year-old D.C. federal appeals court judge.
Democrats demanded hundreds of thousands of pages of documents on Kavanaugh’s record as White House associate counsel and staff secretary but succeeded in getting only a fraction of the total — some turned over just hours before confirmation hearings commenced, and others marked “committee confidential,” in effect gagging senators from asking questions about them.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, permitted release of numerous emails, including three cited Tuesday by Blumenthal.
The emails harken back to the controversy surrounding Manuel “Manny” Miranda, a Republican Senate staffer who in 2003 admitted he had stolen sensitive computerized documents on Senate Democrats’ strategy for fighting Bush judicial nominees.
The emails show direct communication between Kavanaugh, Miranda and others in the Bush administration.
“I cannot make it at 12:15,” Kavanaugh said in an email to Miranda and a Justice Department official on July 30, 2002. “Can the three of us get on the phone instead? I definitely want to talk to both of you.”
In three preceding emails, Miranda lays out in copious detail the talking points of Democratic senators on nominations including that of Priscilla Owen, a controversial Texas Supreme Court judge who in 2005 won confirmation to the U.S. appeals court that covers Texas.
“I would ask that no action be taken by any of your offices on this for now except as I request,” Miranda said in an email to Kavanaugh and the DOJ official two days earlier. “It is important that it be confidential to the recipients of this email and up your chains of authority only.”
Miranda then goes on to discuss a confidential memo that the staff of Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., a Judiciary member, planned to distribute to other Democratic staffers.
Calls for disclosure
At the hearings last week, Leahy grilled Kavanaugh on whether he knew the materials he received from Miranda were stolen. Leahy said Miranda’s actions had been referred to as a “digital Watergate,” and compared it to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computers by Russia — a key factor in the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller into alleged contacts between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.
Kavanaugh repeated past assertions that he didn’t know the documents were stolen. And had he known, Kavanaugh said, he would have alerted then White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales.
“I’m not here to accuse him of lying,” Blumenthal said. “But serious concerns have been raised and the only way to resolve them is through the documents that so far have been concealed.”
Blumenthal and other Democrats have waged a back-and-forth battle against Grassley and a lawyer representing former President George W. Bush, Bill Burck, who presided over release of Bush-era documents involving Kavanaugh.
Blumenthal on Tuesday renewed his vow to go to court to force disclosure of documents through the Freedom of Information Act.
Grassley has insisted that Democrats were provided with unprecedented numbers of documents, far exceeding those provided in previous confirmations, Democratic or Republican.
But Blumenthal, who labeled many of the documents turned over so far as “junk,” stuck to his guns.
“The full record needs to be disclosed,” he said.
He warned that non-disclosure could come back to haunt Republicans if documents eventually prove that Kavanaugh gave false testimony.
Republicans “should welcome and insist that documents be made public before a vote, not afterward,” Blumenthal said. “History will judge them harshly and, in fact, condemn them if they vote to confirm someone who later is found to have serious ethical problems.”