Grassley confident in Kavanaugh confirmation

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley addresses document debate in Supreme Court nomination.



Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies at his confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill Sept. 4, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Emily Wangen, Politics Reporter

Last updated on Sept. 6 at 4 p.m.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley’s press secretary refuted statements from Senate Judiciary Committee members that documents pertaining to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh released on social media Thursday were classified as committee confidential, meaning they could not be released to the public.

“Apparently, some [senators] just wanted to break the rules and make a scene, but didn’t check their email,” Grassley’s press secretary, George Hartman, said in an email to The Daily Iowan. “Sen. Grassley had already answered their last-minute requests.”

Hartman said the restrictions on the documents released by Democratic senators were waived early Thursday morning following the request of lawmakers on the committee. He noted the senators were alerted of the restriction waiver before the Thursday session of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing began.

Senate Judiciary Committee members Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, and Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, released emails on Thursday that were referenced during Kavanaugh’s testimony before the committee on Wednesday. The messages contained information on Kavanaugh’s past views on racial profiling and affirmative action.

“The fact that tens of thousands of documents revealing a Supreme Court nominee’s views on key issues were deemed Committee Confidential and not available to the public reflects the absurdity of this process,” Booker said in a statement on Thursday.

See original story below:

Iowa Sen. and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley called Democrats’ complaints of missing documents a “distraction” in the fight to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s choice for Supreme Court justice.

“The judge is so qualified and [the documents are] meant to be distractions because none of them are seeing anything wrong with his qualifications,” Grassley told reporters Wednesday.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing began Tuesday following the Labor Day holiday, but calls to delay the hearing began in August.

The committee’s ranking member, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called for the delay of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing on Aug. 22 because the Judiciary Committee Democrats only had access to a portion of Kavanaugh’s records.

Just days before the hearings were set to begin, the Senate was informed documents would be withheld by the executive branch.

The Trump administration announced it would withhold 100,000 pages of documents relating to Kavanaugh’s time in the George W. Bush White House. A Bush lawyer released 42,000 pages of documents the day before the hearings began.

“This is just the latest action in a series of actions to obstruct our review of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination,” Feinstein said in a Sept. 1 statement.

The late release of the Bush documents also raised Democrats’ ire.

“It’s the latest insult in what has been an insulting process for reviewing the nominee’s record on the issues,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on Monday.

Grassley disagreed. He noted on Wednesday the total number of available documents equal more than the five previous nominees combined.

“Most of these people have said that they’re going to vote no anyways,” Grassley said. “I think there’s only six or seven Democrats who haven’t said how they’re going to vote. So how much more do you need to know to vote no?”

On his 15th judicial nomination, Grassley noted he has seen growing partisan divide in confirmations since 2002.

“The well was poisoned about the year 2002, when Democrats figured ‘we’ve got to enter politics into it,’ ” said Grassley, one of the Senate’s longest-sitting members.

Kavanaugh needs to capture 51 votes in the Senate to be confirmed. Grassley remains confident in the circuit judge’s confirmation despite pushback from Senate Democrats.

He told reporters Wednesday he believes Kavanaugh will get 54 or 55 votes from senators on both sides, but he noted he does not expect to see much support from Democrats.

“If we don’t have at least 50 votes, I’m sure that no Democrats would dare give us the 50th vote,” Grassley said on Wednesday in a press conference.

In August, Grassley told reporters that the confirmation hearing would last a week at the least, adding that the confirmation process will take as long as his colleagues need.

Trump nominated Kavanaugh, a judge for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, on July 9 to fill the vacant seat left by retiring U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. This is Trump’s second Supreme Court nomination; the first was Neil Gorsuch in 2017.

“[Kavanaugh’s qualifications are] very good obviously and today and tomorrow’s hearing is very vital for the American people to hear directly from the nominee,” Grassley said Wednesday.