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Democrats Ramp Up Attacks on Kavanaugh’s Honesty After Hearings

Leahy says high court nominee gave “untruthful testimony, under oath and on the record”

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats have added a new line of attack against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, accusing the longtime appeals court judge of misleading or even lying under oath during his confirmation hearing last week.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer highlighted Kavanaugh’s answers about his work more than a decade ago, as White House counsel during the George W. Bush administration.

The topics include his previous testimony from 2004 and 2006 about his involvement in judicial nominations, what he knew about controversial Bush-era programs and whether he received some documents apparently stolen in 2002 and 2003 from committee Democrats.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that Judge Kavanaugh has misled the Senate Judiciary Committee in a number of ways,” Schumer said in a series of tweets Sunday. “This should raise immediate red flags for all Senators and the American public.”

ICYMI: Booker, Grassley, Cornyn Battle Over Release of Bush-Era Kavanaugh Emails

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The accusations will almost certainly remain a fixture in the debate over Kavanaugh’s nomination as it continues on the confirmation process this month, but there is little sign they will change any votes in the Senate. Kavanaugh appears on track for a committee vote on Sept. 20 and a confirmation vote before the end of the month, which would solidify the conservative tilt of the Supreme Court.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, went further than Schumer, writing that Kavanaugh gave “untruthful testimony, under oath and on the record.”

The Vermont Democrat spent much of his questioning during the confirmation hearing asking Kavanaugh about whether he had received, when he worked at the White House, any Democratic committee documents obtained by Republican staff member Manuel Miranda in 2002 and 2003.

Leahy said Kavanaugh testified that he never received any documents that appeared to be drafted or prepared by Democratic committee staff, but “he got 8 pages of material taken VERBATIM from my files, obviously written by Dem staff, LABELED ‘not [for] distribution.’”

And Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon wrote that “Kavanaugh used stolen documents and LIED about it for personal gain. This isn’t complicated. He is unworthy of a seat” on the Supreme Court.

The NAACP called on the Judiciary Committee to investigate the allegations. Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice and a former Schumer staffer, said Democrats should make a criminal referral to the Justice Department.

Committee member Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, on his Twitter account, called the claims “outlandish” and linked to online debates that he said “debunked” each claim. In one exchange with Hatch during the confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh defended his previous testimony from 2004 and 2006 when he was a nominee to be on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

“I told the truth, and the whole truth, in my prior testimony,” Kavanaugh said.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said in an email that Democrats were trying to smear Kavanaugh’s reputation, later adding that outside experts had said the Democrats lacked proof of their allegations.

“We should put these Democratic Senators under oath, because they are the ones deliberately misleading the public,” Shah said. “They’ve violated Senate rules, leaked confidential information and trafficked in conspiracy theories — all in a desperate attempt to smear Judge Kavanaugh’s stellar reputation. The good news for the country is that it has been a resounding failure.”

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