Grassley on Judge Kavanaugh: The most qualified Supreme Court nominee in our nation’s history
Prepared Floor Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
On the Nomination of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to serve as Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States
October 5, 2018
One-hundred days ago, Justice Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court. Shortly thereafter, on July 9, the President announced the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve as the newest justice.
Judge Kavanaugh has spent 25 years of his career in public service. He spent the last twelve years on the D.C. Circuit, considered the second-most important federal court in the country. His record there has been extremely impressive: the Supreme Court adopted a position advanced in Judge Kavanaugh’s opinions no fewer than a dozen times.
Judge Kavanaugh is also a pillar of his community and the legal profession. He serves underprivileged communities, coaches girls’ basketball, and is a lector at his church. He has shown a deep commitment to preparing young lawyers for their careers. He has been a law professor at three prestigious law schools and a mentor to dozens of judicial law clerks.
This should’ve been a respectable and dignified confirmation process. In a previous era, this highly qualified nominee would’ve received unanimous support in the Senate. Before left-wing outside groups and Democratic leaders had him in their sights, Judge Kavanaugh possessed an impeccable reputation and was held in high esteem by the bench and bar alike. Even the American Bar Association, which the Democrats say is the “gold standard”, gave them their unanimously well-qualified rating.
What left-wing groups and their Democratic allies have done to Judge Kavanaugh is nothing short of monstrous. I saw what they did to Robert Bork. I saw what they did to Clarence Thomas. That was nothing compared to what we’ve witnessed over the last three months. The conduct of the left-wing, dark money groups and their allies in this body have shamed us all.
The fix was in from the beginning. Before the ink was dry on the nomination, the Minority Leader announced that he would oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with everything he’s got. Even before he knew the President’s nominee, the Minority Leader said he was opposed to all twenty-five well qualified potential nominees listed. One member of my Committee said that those who vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh would be “complicit in evil.” Another member of the Committee revealed the endgame when she suggested that Senate Democrats could hold the vacancy open for two years if they defeated Judge Kavanaugh and took control of the Senate in the midterm elections.
I oversaw the most transparent confirmation process in Senate history. Senators had access to more than 500,000 pages of judicial writings, publications, and documents from Judge Kavanaugh’s Executive Branch service. This is on top of the 307 judicial opinions he authored. Despite Democrats’ efforts to bury the Committee in even more paperwork, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a timely four-day hearing on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination last month. Judge Kavanaugh testified for more than 32 hours over the course of three days. Judge Kavanaugh showed the nation exactly why he deserves to be on the Supreme Court.
Judge Kavanaugh’s antagonists couldn’t land a punch on him during his three days of testimony. Even when they made false or misleading arguments, they couldn’t touch him. Some of my colleagues accused Judge Kavanaugh of committing perjury. For that false claim The Washington Post fact-checker awarded my colleague three Pinocchios.
Another colleague claimed Judge Kavanaugh described contraceptives as “abortion-inducing” drugs. The video my colleague shared on the internet was doctored to omit the fact that Judge Kavanaugh was describing the plaintiffs’ claims in a case he decided, not his own views. My colleague was awarded four Pinocchios—the most you can get.
But they still had one card to play, which they had kept way up their sleeves. In July, the Ranking Member received a letter from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford alleging that Judge Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school 36 years ago. Instead of referring Dr. Ford to the FBI or sharing these allegations with her colleagues—either of which would’ve respected and preserved Dr. Ford’s confidentiality as she requested—the Ranking Member referred Dr. Ford to Democratic-activist attorneys closely tied to the Clintons. The Ranking Member sat on these allegations for nearly seven weeks, only to reveal them at the eleventh hour when it appeared Judge Kavanaugh was headed towards confirmation.
The Ranking Member had numerous opportunities to raise these allegations with Judge Kavanaugh personally. She could’ve discussed them with Judge Kavanaugh during their private meeting on August 20—a meeting which took place after her staff had sent Dr. Ford to Democratic lawyers—or shared them with 64 of her colleagues who also met with him. The Ranking Member’s staff could’ve raised them with Judge Kavanaugh during a background investigation follow-up call in late August. Senators could’ve asked Judge Kavanaugh about the allegations during his 32 hours of testimony over the course of three days. Judiciary Committee members could’ve asked Judge Kavanaugh about this in the closed session of the hearing, which the Ranking Member didn’t attend. The closed session is the appropriate place to ask the nominee about sensitive matters like these. And there were no questions about these allegations among the 1,300 written questions sent to Judge Kavanaugh after the hearing. This amounts to more written questions submitted after a hearing to all Supreme Court nominees combined.
Keeping the July 30 letter secret deprived senators of having all the facts before them on this nomination.
It wasn’t until September 13—nearly seven weeks after the Ranking Member received these allegations and on the eve of a committee vote—that the Ranking Member referred them to the FBI. And somehow, they were leaked to the press. It wasn’t until those news reports on September 16 that I learned of Dr. Ford’s identity. This was an outrage. The political motives behind the Democrats’ actions are obvious to everyone.
Dr. Ford requested the opportunity to tell her story to the Senate Judiciary Committee. After a lot of foot-dragging by Dr. Ford’s attorneys, they finally agreed to a public hearing. As promised, I provided a safe, comfortable and dignified forum for Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. Dr. Ford was sincere in her testimony, as was Judge Kavanaugh, who emphatically denied the allegations.
It’s true that confirmation hearings aren’t a trial. But trials have rules based on commonsense notions of fairness and due process, not the other way around. It’s a fundamental aspect of fairness and due process that the accuser have the burden of proving allegations. Judge Kavanaugh was publicly accused of a crime, and his reputation and livelihood were at stake. It was only fair that his accuser had the burden of proof. The consensus is that this burden wasn’t met.
Ultimately, the existing evidence—including the statements of the three alleged eyewitnesses named by Dr. Ford—refuted Dr. Ford’s version of the facts. Our investigative nominations counsel, Rachel Mitchell—who has nearly 25 years of experience advocating for sexual assault victims and investigating sex crimes—concluded that there was lack of specificity and simply too many inconsistencies in Dr. Ford’s allegations to establish that Judge Kavanaugh committed sexual assault, even under the lowest standard of proof. She concluded:
“A ‘he said, she said’ case is incredibly difficult to prove. But this case is even weaker than that. Dr. Ford identified other witnesses to the event, and those witnesses either refuted her allegations or failed to corroborate them. For the reasons discussed below, I do not think that a reasonable prosecutor would bring this case based on the evidence before the Committee. Nor do I believe that this evidence is sufficient to satisfy the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard.”
We have thoroughly investigated Judge Kavanaugh’s background. In addition to the prior 6 FBI full-field background investigations with the interviews of nearly 150 people who have known Judge Kavanaugh his entire life, the Committee also separately and thoroughly investigated every credible allegation that we received.
Our more than 20 committee staff members have worked night and day over the last many weeks, tracking down virtually all leads. And at the request of undecided members, the FBI re-opened Judge Kavanaugh’s background investigation for another week. The FBI interviewed 10 more people related to the latest credible sexual-assault allegations. And the FBI confirmed what the Senate investigators already concluded.
That is this: There’s nothing in the supplemental FBI background-investigation report that we didn’t already know.
These uncorroborated accusations have been unequivocally and repeatedly rejected by Judge Kavanaugh, and neither the Judiciary Committee nor the FBI could locate any third parties who can attest to any of the allegations.
There’s also no contemporaneous evidence. This investigation found no hint of misconduct and the same is true of the six prior FBI background investigations conducted during Judge Kavanaugh’s 25 years of public service.
Nothing an investigator, including career FBI special agents, does will ever be good enough to satisfy the Democrat leadership in Washington, who staked out opposition to Judge Kavanaugh before he was even nominated. There is simply no reason to deny Judge Kavanaugh a seat on the Supreme Court on the basis of the evidence presented to us. The Democrat strategy used against Judge Kavanaugh has made one thing clear, they will never be satisfied no matter how fair and thorough this process is.
Thirty-one years after the Senate Democrats’ treatment of Robert Bork, their playbook remains the same. For the left-wing, advice and consent has become search and destroy—a demolition derby.
I’m pleased to support Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation. I’m sorry for what the Kavanaugh family went through the last several weeks. We should all admire Judge Kavanaugh’s willingness to serve his country despite the way he’s been treated. It would be a travesty if the Senate did not confirm the most qualified nominee in our nation’s history. The multitude of allegations against him have proven to be false.
I urge my colleagues to join me in voting for this exceptional nominee.