Saturday, September 8, 2018

Kavanaugh's history of evasion and likely perjury will not stop most, if not all, Republican senators from voting for confirmation. The question is why.

Here are a few sources that shed light on the answer, starting with Lisa Graves who says I Wrote Some of the Stolen Memos That Brett Kavanaugh Lied to the Senate About, and adds “He should be impeached, not elevated.” (h/t Lise Hicks)

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 raised.

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.

If you want the details of Kavanaugh’s dishonesty check out Graves’ op-ed. Also, check out this reporting from the Daily Beast, Newly Released Emails Show Brett Kavanaugh May Have Perjured Himself at Least Four Times, which concludes that “Formerly confidential emails have been released that show the Supreme Court nominee contradicting statements he made under oath to the Senate.”

… none of this may matter. Republican senators have held their noses and put up with Trump for 20 months just to get to this moment—they’re not going to blow it now just because of a little perjury, racism, using stolen documents, and suborning of torture.

Then again, if the Democrats are smart, they’ll keep drip-drip-dripping a few emails a day for the next several weeks. After all, there’s no real justification for these “committee confidential” emails to be withheld, and no real explanation for the conflicts of interest among those selecting which emails to release. At a certain point, the narrative may shift; a centrist consensus may develop that Kavanaugh is just too much of a political operative who has said too many problematic things. It’s not likely, but it is possible.

Undoubtedly, there’s still much more that we don’t know. At the very least, Leahy said there are emails proving Kavanaugh met with Manuel, the leaker, in a bar to exchange documents—we haven’t seen those yet. But more likely, if these couple of dozen emails are reflective of the hundreds of thousands of pages still under wraps, we literally ain’t seen nothing yet.

You would think that that level of mendacity would doom a nominee for SCOTUS. However, we should not be surprised that Kavanaugh has advanced to the point that the general expectation is that he will sail through the post-hearing storm and be confirmed. One reason, is that lies are now embraced, accepted, or at least shrugged off by our Senators. Another is that Trump has set a new norm for accepting lies. But the most credible, coherent explanation of why Kavanaugh will be confirmed is provided by NY Times columnist Michelle Goldberg who exposes The Corrupt Bargain of the Adults in the Room, charging that They’re not restraining Trump. They’re making him more powerful. (h/t Sherry Moreau)

Questions about Kavanaugh’s possible likely perjury aside, his evasions should be enough to disqualify him. Here are snippets from Goldberg’s op-ed.

… Whatever emerges, Kavanaugh, under questioning from Democrats, offered no comfort to those who fear he’s being put in place to protect the president. Senator Richard Blumenthal asked if Kavanaugh would commit to recuse himself from cases involving Trump’s “personal criminal or civil liability,” but Kavanaugh would not do so. The nominee danced around a question from Senator Dianne Feinstein about whether a sitting president can be required to respond to a subpoena. He didn’t answer a question from Senator Patrick Leahy about whether a president can pardon himself.

There are plenty of reasons Kavanaugh shouldn’t be confirmed. Leahy made a credible case that the judge once lied under oath about his knowledge of a scandal involving documents stolen from Senate Democrats, which happened when Kavanaugh was in the Bush administration. If Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, were actually committed to preserving Roe v. Wade, she would raise the alarm about a leaked email in which Kavanaugh questioned the idea that the 1973 abortion decision is “settled law.” But realistically, barring a last-minute outbreak of conscience from two Senate Republicans, Kavanaugh will soon sit on the Supreme Court.

… There’s every reason to believe that Kavanaugh will shield the president from accountability or restraints on his power. Yet even Republicans who think Trump is a menace are desperate to confirm his judicial pick.

What we have here, in miniature, is the corrupt bargain Washington Republicans have made with a president many of them privately despise. They know Trump is unfit, but he gives them tax cuts and right-wing judges. Those tax cuts and right-wing judges, in turn, strengthen the president’s hand, buying him gratitude from rich donors and potential legal cover. …

Goldberg goes on to take a whack at the anonymous NY Times op-ed.

"We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous,” the official wrote, adding, “There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.”

This is the quintessence of the Trump-enabling Republican. He or she purports to be standing between us and the calamities that our ignorant and unstable president could unleash, while complaining, in the very same op-ed, that the media doesn’t give the White House enough credit. This person wants the administration to thrive because it has advanced Republican policy objectives, even as he or she argues that the administration is so dangerous that it must be contained by unprecedented internal sabotage.

The choice is clear for Republican senators, Goldberg notes.

A vote for Kavanaugh is thus a vote to give Trump a measure of impunity. Republican senators who know the president is out of control have a choice — they can maintain a check on his ill-considered autocratic inclinations, or solidify right-wing power on the Supreme Court for a generation. It’s obvious which way they’ll go. Maybe they’ll tell themselves having adults in the room at the White House makes it O.K.

I’m adding some bio briefs so you can see exactly the kinds of people Trump demeans and slanders.

Lisa Graves is the co-founder of Documented, 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 Justice.

Michelle Goldberg has been an Opinion columnist since 2017. She is the author of several books about politics, religion and women’s rights, and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for public service in 2018 for reporting on workplace sexual harassment issues.

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