Prepared Floor Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
Kavanaugh Hearing on Track for Sept 4
August 22, 2018
Over the past day, several of my colleagues issued statements calling for Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing to be delayed. They claim it’s because President Trump’s former lawyer recently pleaded guilty to criminal violations of campaign finance law, allegedly at President Trump’s direction.
I’m not going to delay Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. There’s no precedent for delaying a hearing in these circumstances. In fact, there’s clear precedent pointing the other way. In 1994, President Clinton nominated Justice Breyer to the Supreme Court. President Clinton was, at the time, under investigation by Independent Counsel Robert Fiske in connection with the Whitewater land deal. Indeed, President Clinton’s own records were under a grand jury subpoena. Yet the Senate confirmed Justice Breyer by a vote of 87-9 during all this.
In fact, President Clinton was under investigation for much of his presidency and was impeached for committing perjury. But the Senate didn’t stop confirming his lifetime appointments to the bench. President Trump is not even close to being in the same legal situation as President Clinton. My colleagues’ pleas to delay the hearing ring false. I’ll tell you why.
Liberal outside groups and Senate Democratic leaders decided to oppose the President’s Supreme Court nominee by any means necessary. Some even announced their opposition before Judge Kavanaugh was nominated. The Minority Leader said he’d fight Judge Kavanaugh with everything he’s got.
Members of the Judiciary Committee announced their opposition before giving him any consideration whatsoever. One member said voting for Judge Kavanaugh is “complicit in evil.” Another member said Judge Kavanaugh threatens “destruction of the Constitution of the United States.”
The goal has always been the same: delay the confirmation process as much as possible and hope Democrats take over the Senate in the midterm elections. The Ranking Member’s hometown newspaper reported on this strategy recently, calling it an attempt to stall. The strategies might change, but the goal to obstruct the confirmation process remains unchanged.
First, Democratic leaders tried to apply the Biden Rule—which bars confirmations in presidential election years and which many Democrats previously said doesn’t even exist—to midterm election years. When this failed—because it was flatly false—they changed strategies.
They tried pushing for an unprecedented disclosure of Judge Kavanaugh’s executive branch documents, even though we’ve already received more pages of such documents than any previous Supreme Court nominee. And this is on top of his twelve-year judicial track record and other more relevant publicly available materials.
Now, they’re trying to latch onto the legal troubles of President Trump’s former associates.
But, as I just explained, there’s no precedent or logical reason for the Senate to decline to proceed on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination in these circumstances. It’s just another attempt to block Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation by any means necessary.
On a related note, we are working to make as many of the documents we receive publicly available as soon as possible. It’s common practice to receive documents as “committee confidential” until we can assure ourselves that we won’t disclose sensitive, confidential information to the public.
Chairman Leahy did this during Justice Kagan’s confirmation process, and I’m doing the same thing. This gives Judiciary Committee members a jump start on reviewing documents. The goal is to make as many publicly available as possible. I have promised to work with President Bush and President Trump to waive “committee confidentiality” for specific documents that my colleagues would like to use at the confirmation hearing. This is also consistent with how the Judiciary Committee has handled this issue in the past.
And, of course, all my Senate colleagues are welcome to review “committee confidential” documents at their convenience. Simply get in touch with my staff. They will make sure you have full access to the range of “committee confidential” documents.
One of my colleagues tweeted:
Chairman Grassley unilaterally deemed Kavanaugh records “committee confidential”. Penalty for release could include “expulsion” from the Senate, which hasn’t happened since the Civil War, for disloyalty to the Union. GOP is going that far to keep them secret.
This is absurd. He’s acting like the Senate has never received “committee confidential” documents before. It’s common practice. And it’s happened in previous Supreme Court nominations, under Democratic chairmen.
It’s regrettable that some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have politicized this process so much, and have such short memories. I yield the floor.