The hypocrisy of Democrats, and their media allies, is on prominent display in their handling of sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden versus their treatment of Brett Kavanaugh. Another example of the hypocrisy relates to the demand, or lack thereof, for documents related to the official government work of the two men.
Until they switched at the last minute to Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation, Democrats’ main message and procedural complaint against Kavanaugh was that they needed to review millions of public records from his time of service in the executive branch. It was the basis for their theatrics in the first round of nomination hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee. At issue was whether these documents were covered by executive privilege, and what kind of precedent it would create to be exchanging these documents between the branches of government. It wasn’t a new argument, but one that rears its head in confirmation battles.
For example, Cory Booker stunned the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 6, 2018, by announcing even before questioning began that he would violate Senate rules by releasing emails that had been marked “committee confidential.” His “Spartacus” moment, as he called it, followed months of battles over how many of documents related to Kavanaugh’s work for the president had to be turned over to the committee.
Committees usually seek paperwork when they’re trying to learn more about nominees whose judicial views are unclear. That wasn’t the case with Kavanaugh, who had spent 12 years as a prominent federal judge, with 307 opinions of his to peruse.
If senators were curious about Kavanaugh’s judicial opinions, they could simply read them. By contrast, when Elena Kagan was nominated to the Court by Barack Obama, she had no opinions to her name and limited writings because she had never served as a judge. Her paperwork during her time in the executive branch was of relatively more importance.
Paperwork from early in Kavanaugh’s career as a government lawyer and presidential aide said less about how he’d be as a judge than the 12 years he spent as a federal judge. Beyond that, Kavanaugh had more papers in the government record than other nominees. He’d served on Ken Starr’s Whitewater investigation, in the White House counsel’s office, and as staff secretary in the George W. Bush White House.
Technically staff secretaries have millions of papers come across their desk, even if they have nothing to do with the authorship of those papers. Nonetheless, Charles Grassley set about obtaining those papers because Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee said they needed to review them.
All papers had to go through multiple presidential reviews on account of how they affected multiple presidencies. The Whitewater papers, having previously been combed over, were easiest to produce and showed Kavanaugh in a favorable light. He had argued against releasing personally embarrassing details about President William Jefferson Clinton’s sexual misconduct, for example.
Grassley hired an “e-discovery” firm, marking the first time such techniques would be used in a Supreme Court confirmation process. He put together a team of dozens of staffers to go through the documents, working out of a windowless, rat-infested, cinder-block suite in the basement of the Senate’s Dirksen Office Building. Democrats still claimed it wasn’t enough.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer held a press conference on July 31, joined by Dick Durbin and Dianne Feinstein and assorted leaders of left-wing activist groups. He posed with a small pile of empty boxes labeled “missing records” and said he wanted to see them filled with Kavanaugh’s papers from his time as White House staff secretary.
“I want to make clear, for just a sec, how aggressive the obstruction is,” Schumer said.
A few days later, Republicans posed with 167 boxes representing the hundreds of thousands of pages that were being made available to the committee in easy-to-search digital form.
“If you were to stack up all these pages, it would be taller than the Big Ben, taller than the Statue of Liberty, taller than the Capitol dome, and taller than the Taj Mahal,” noted Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina. “I think it’s more than enough for the Democrats to make a rational decision about supporting Judge Kavanaugh.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Joe Biden
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