Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is declining to answer questions about the extent of the president’s pardon power. (Sept. 5)
WASHINGTON – Democrats seeking to put hurdles in Brett Kavanaugh’s path to the Supreme Court get another chance Thursday following a 12-hour marathon hearing that the 53-year-old judge survived largely unscathed Wednesday.
The 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee will get 20-minute rounds of questions, during which Kavanaugh is sure to be asked once again about his views on presidential power and a number of hot-button social issues such as abortion, civil rights, health care and gun control.
President Donald Trump’s second nominee to the high court followed the example set by the current justices Wednesday by sidestepping pointed questions about Supreme Court precedents and potential future cases. He was similarly evasive on issues involving the president, such as Trump’s attacks on the Justice Department and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Here is a look at three things that happened on Wednesday.
Did he discuss the Mueller probe?
As the hearing neared the 12-hour mark Wednesday night, he seemed taken aback when Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, asked if he had discussed Mueller’s probe with anyone at a law firm headed by Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz. “Be careful with your answer,” Harris said.
“I don’t know everyone that works at that firm,” Kavanaugh ultimately responded.
“You don’t want to tell us,” Harris said.
The protests continued
The late-night showdown between Kavanaugh and Harris prompted another vocal outburst from protesters in the hearing room, and Capitol Police hauled about 20 people out. Over the past two days, close to 150 people have been removed after shouting objections to Kavanaugh’s nomination.
A coalition of groups opposing Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination urged activists across America to travel to Washington to disrupt his Senate confirmation hearings this week, and many answered the call.
Capitol police arrested 70 people for outbursts and disruptions during Kavanaugh’s hearing Tuesday – and the protests continued during his testimony Wednesday.
The protests were so constant frequent at times that Wednesday’s hearing assumed a decidedly halting cadence, and Republican senators expressed frustration at the interruptions. Police temporarily closed off the hearing from additional spectators at one point, leaving some seats empty.
‘No one is above the law…’
Kavanaugh sought to show independence from the president who nominated him, telling members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that his loyalty would be to his battered copy of the Constitution. He refused to say whether a president must respond to a subpoena, a question that could come before the Supreme Court based on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
When asked if he still believes a president can fire an independent prosecutor, as he wrote 20 years ago, he said only, “That was my view in 1998.”
“No one is above the law in our constitutional system,” Kavanaugh said at the beginning of what promised to be a 12-hour day. “No matter who you are in our system … it’s all equal justice under law.”
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