Home » Advice & Consent 2.08: Heated Hearings

Advice & Consent 2.08: Heated Hearings

On this episode: Well. That escalated quickly…

The Hearings

  • Day 1 started with a bang: protests, calls for adjournment, testy exchanges
  • Sen. Sasse and the (over simple?) theory on why things are so darn political (WaPo)
  • Sen. Cruz quoted Shakespeare in an attempt to be clever, but once again did not publicly deny he is the Zodiac. Developing!
  • The handshake snub. Fred Guttenberg, the father of a Parkland victim extended his hand to say hello and in the photo that shot around the world, Kavanaugh wheeled around and walked off. Twitter did its thing. Kavanaugh got an opportunity–thanks to a Graham rehab attempt today–to explain… and then didn’t. Odd? Missed opportunity?

Day 2 got into the questions and they are still going as we record. Here’s what stood out to us so far.

  • Kavanaugh declined to say
    • That Roe was correctly decided (although he acknowledged it was precedent, nay perhaps a super precedent)
    • That a POTUS can or cannot pardon themself, or trade a promise not to testify for a pardon.
    • Whether a POTUS may be subpoaened
    • That he’d recuse himself from any cases involving Don’s civil or criminal liability.
    • All of this: utterly unsurprising, and supremely (pun intended) frustrating
  • Sen. Leahy got into the question as to whether Kavanaugh misled the committee regarding his work on warrantless surveillance during his hearing for the DC Circuit. He also got into the withheld documents being important for assessing Kavanaugh.
  • Sen. Durbin is a boss at this. He asked Kavanaugh to recommend to suspend the hearings to get the docs all together (he declined) and then pivoted off of a seemingly softball question on “dirtiest job you ever had” to a controversial labor law holding he wrote.
  • Sen. Schumer showed some gumption by refusing consent to allow the Senate to act with the committee hearing going on at the same time. It forced McConnell to shut down the Senate for the day. This is the simple kind of stuff Dems can do to inflict some pain points… it certainly got some tsk tsking from Republicans on the committee which is hysterical considering, I don’t know… Merrick Garland. (PS I feel like we need to go all Fight Club and have a chant… “HIS NAME… IS MERRICK GARLAND.”)
  • Jeff Flake is not your hero. He is apparently an amazingly giving softball pitcher… “who do you admire?”
  • Sen. Booker was very good on the missing docs issue, particular the “Committee Confidential” docs… “the system is rigged” (sounds vaguely familiar…)
  • Just before we hit the mics, Sen. Kennedy had some real questions on statutory interpretation and Heller that let Kavanaugh riff a bit and kill some time.

Takeaways

  • The hearings are becoming less and less important. As SCOTUS continues to politicize, SCOTUS seats become more like cabinet seat, in the sense that the nature of the person who becomes the next Secretary of State is largely be determined in the next election. The hearings there are largely unimportant there, as they are here. The difference of course is lifetime appointments.
  • Meanwhile in Plot B… the yet-to-be-released Bob Woodward book and an anonymous op-ed by a senior administration official published in the NYTimes this very afternoon are renewing questions of the President’s fitness for office. The questions continued, but many news outlets broke away…. Unlikely this will impact the nomination… in fact, one could argue it would redouble GOP efforts to fast track it.
    • PS The Times op-ed swamped the hearings in terms of press coverage.
  • But back to Plot A… this is no longer a hypothetical. Judge Kavanaugh can put a lot of these issues to rest by pledging to recuse himself from anything having to do with Don. He’ll be asked… he will certainly not comply.

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