[Brett Kavanaugh helped spearhead the impeachment of President
Bill Clinton for perjury. Then he committed the same offense in his
own confirmation hearings as a federal judge. ]
BRETT KAVANAUGH LIED. REPEATEDLY. HE SHOULD BE IMPEACHED.
September 7, 2018
_ Brett Kavanaugh helped spearhead the impeachment of President Bill
Clinton for perjury. Then he committed the same offense in his own
confirmation hearings as a federal judge. _
Judge Brett Kavanaugh prepares to testify before the Senate Judiciary
Committee on the third day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearings
on Capitol Hill on Sept. 6, Photo edited by Slate. Photo by Chip
Much of Washington has spent the week focusing on whether Judge Brett
Kavanaugh should be confirmed to the Supreme Court. After the
revelations of his confirmation hearings, the better question is
whether he should be impeached from the federal judiciary.
I do not raise that question lightly, but I am certain it must be
Newly released emails show that while he was working to move through
President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees in the early 2000s,
Kavanaugh received confidential memos, letters, and talking points of
Democratic staffers stolen by GOP Senate aide Manuel Miranda. That
includes research and talking points Miranda stole from the Senate
server after I had written them for the Senate Judiciary Committee as
the chief counsel for nominations for the minority.
Receiving those memos and letters alone is not an impeachable offense.
No, Kavanaugh should be removed because he was repeatedly asked under
oath as part of his 2004 and 2006 confirmation hearings for his
position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit about
whether he had received such information from Miranda
and each time he falsely denied it.
For example, in 2004, Sen. Orrin Hatch asked him directly if he
received “any documents that appeared to you to have been drafted or
prepared by Democratic staff members of the Senate Judiciary
Committee.” Kavanaugh responded, unequivocally, “No.”
In 2006, Sen. Ted Kennedy asked him if he had any regrets about how he
treated documents he had received from Miranda that he later learned
were stolen. Kavanaugh rejected the premise of the question, restating
that he never even saw one of those documents.
Back then the senators did not have the emails that they have now,
showing that Miranda sent Kavanaugh numerous documents containing what
was plainly research by Democrats. Some of those emails went so far as
to warn Kavanaugh not to distribute the Democratic talking points he
was being given. If these were documents shared from the Democratic
side of the aisle as part of normal business, as Kavanaugh claimed to
have believed in his most recent testimony, why would they be labeled
“not [for] distribution”? And why would we share our precise
strategy to fight controversial Republican nominations with the
Republicans we were fighting?
Another email chain included the subject line “spying
hard to imagine a more definitive clue than that. Another said
“Senator Leahy’s staff has distributed a confidential letter
[https://twitter.com/SenatorLeahy/status/1037753416037031937] to Dem
Counsel” and then described for Kavanaugh
that _precise_ confidential information we had gathered about a
nominee Kavanaugh was boosting. Again, it is illogical to think that
we would have just given Miranda this “confidential” information
for him to use against us. But this is precisely what Judge Kavanaugh
suggested in his testimony on Wednesday. He is not that naïve.
In the hearing this week, Sen. Leahy also noted that the
previously hidden emails
that Miranda asked to meet Kavanaugh in person to give him “paper”
files with “useful info to map out [Sens. Joe] Biden and [Dianne]
Feinstein, and others.” The promised information included
“Biden-speak.” Again, this would not have been a normal
In response to Leahy’s questions this week, Kavanaugh made the
outlandish claim that it was typical for him to be told what Democrats
planned to ask at these combative hearings over controversial
nominees, and that this was in fact the “coin of the realm.” As a
Democrat who worked on those questions, I can say definitively that it
was not typical at all. Kavanaugh knows this full well.
At the time, Kavanaugh was working with Miranda and outside groups to
try to force these nominees through the Senate over Democratic
objections, and it would have been suicide to give them our research,
talking points, strategies, or confidential letters. The GOP senators,
their staff, the White House, and outside groups were working
intensively to undermine the work of Democratic senators to block the
most extreme of President Bush’s judicial nominees.
Kavanaugh’s actions were dishonorable and dishonest.
The Leahy talking points given to Kavanaugh were from my in-depth
research into why the Senate had compelling historical precedent for
examining Miguel Estrada’s Department of Justice records, which the
White House counsel’s office was refusing to surrender. Other
confidential materials Miranda shared with Kavanaugh related to
investigations Democrats were pursuing over how Judge Priscilla Owen
had handled an abortion case involving parental consent and about the
overlap between her funders and groups with business before the courts
of Texas. We would never have provided that information—key to our
strategy to try to block what we considered extremist judicial
nominations—to Miranda or to the White House.
During his testimony, Kavanaugh conflated these adversarial
proceedings with ones in which Democrats might have cooperated with
the other side, like the Patriot Act and airline liability. But these
weren’t hearings on some bill where senators would share their
concerns across the aisle to try to get a bipartisan fix on problems
in a piece of legislation. These were oppositional proceedings in
committee and on the floor over controversial judicial nominees.
Kavanaugh knew this just as intimately as I did—our sides fought
over those nominations intensely.
It was also an area where Kavanaugh’s judicial nominations alliance
had taken a scorched-earth approach, attacking Democrats ruthlessly.
The White House’s closest allies went so far as to call Leahy and
other Democrats on the committee “anti-Catholic,” even
running attack ads
Perhaps Kavanaugh was so blinded by his quest to get the most
controversial Bush nominees confirmed in 2003 that he did not have any
concerns about the bounty of secret memos and letters he was
receiving—the full extent of which is not known because so many
documents are still secret.
But, surely, reasonable questions about what he had been party to
would have been considered after the story of the theft exploded in
the news, Miranda was forced to resign, and the U.S. Senate
sergeant-at-arms began a bipartisan investigation into the files
stolen from the Senate?
As of November 2003, when the sergeant-at-arms seized the Judiciary
Committee’s servers, Kavanaugh would have been on notice that any of
the letters, talking points, or research described as being from
Democrats that were provided to him by Miranda were suspect and
probably stolen from the Senate’s server.But he did nothing. He did
not come forward to the Senate to provide information about the
confidential documents Miranda had given him, which were clearly from
Kavanaugh also apparently did nothing when the Senate referred the
case to the U.S. attorney’s office for criminal prosecution.
(Miranda was never prosecuted.)
Eventually, though, Kavanaugh went _even further_ to help cover up
the details of the theft.
During the hearings on his nomination to the D.C. Circuit a few months
after the Miranda news broke, Kavanaugh actively hid his own
involvement, lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee by stating
unequivocally that he not only knew nothing of the episode, but also
never even received any stolen material.
Even if Kavanaugh could claim that he didn’t have any hint _at the
time he received the emails_that these documents were of suspect
provenance—which I personally find implausible—there is no
reasonable way for him to assert honestly that he had no idea what
they were _after_ the revelation of the theft. Any reasonable person
would have realized they had been stolen, and certainly someone as
smart as Kavanaugh would have too.
But he lied.
And he did so repeatedly.
Significantly, he did so even though a few years earlier he had helped
spearhead the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for perjury in a
private civil case. Back then Kavanaugh took lying under oath so
seriously that he was determined to do everything he could to help
remove a president from office.
Now we know that he procured his own confirmation to the federal bench
by committing the same offense. And he did so not in a private case
but in the midst of public hearings for a position of trust, for a
lifetime appointment to the federal judiciary.
His actions were dishonorable and dishonest.
This week, as part of his efforts to be elevated to the highest court
in the land, he has calmly continued to deceive, falsely claiming that
it would have been perfectly normal for him to receive secret
Democratic letters, talking points, and other materials. And if this
absurd notion were somehow true, it would not even be consistent with
what he testified to 12 and 14 years ago. Back then, he didn’t state
it would have been normal for him to receive secret Democratic
Instead, he explicitly and repeatedly went out of his way to say _he
never had access to any such materials_. These objectively false
statements were offered under oath to convince the committee of
something that was untrue. It was clearly intentional, with Kavanaugh
going so far as to correct Sen. Kennedy when the senator described the
document situation accurately.
That’s why—without even getting into other reasonable objections
to his nomination—he should not be confirmed.
In fact, by his own standard, he should clearly be impeached.
_LISA GRAVES is the co-founder of Documented
[http://documentedinvestigations.org/], which investigates corporate
influence on democracy. She is the former chief counsel for
nominations for the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee
and was deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of
_Follow Slate on Instagram [https://www.instagram.com/slate/], Twitter
[https://www.instagram.com/slate/] or Facebook
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