Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) couldn’t begin his remarks at the start of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings without committee Democrats interrupting to complain about Republicans’ slow-walking of the documents related to his record.
“The question is, what is the administration afraid of showing the American people? What is it trying to hide?” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was first to raise the issue of the roughly 40,000 pages of Kavanaugh documents that were released only Monday night. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) jumped in also to complain about the issue.
“If we cannot be recognized, I move to adjourn,” Blumenthal (D-CT) said, prompting cheers from the public gathered in the back of the room.
Grassley tried, without much success, to get the hearing back on track.
“You are out of order, I will proceed,” he said.
For every Senate Democrat who sought to interrupt, a demonstrator in the back of the hearing room also jumped up to protest Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
“You must vote no,” one protestor yelled, as she was escorted out of the room.
Grassley said he could address the Democrats’ concerns about the withheld documents, but doing so would not be “fair” to Judge Kavanaugh, who already was seated before the committee and ready to begin the hearings.
Grassley touted the hundreds of thousands of pages of Kavanuagh documents already released.
“This is more pages than the last five Supreme Court nominees combined,” Grassley said.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) brought up that the Supreme Court went a year without a ninth justice due to Senate Republicans’ blockade of President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland.
“The fact that we cannot take a few days or weeks, to have a complete review of Judge Kavanaugh’s record is unfair to the American people,” he said.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) argued that an court of law would delay a proceeding if one side dropped thousands of pages of documents on the other side the night before a hearing. This claim prompted Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) to gripe that, if this was a court hearing, the judge would have held Democrats in contempt for their interruptions.
Grassley said that even if the senators had trouble reading the 40,000 pages of documents released Monday, their staffs could have, as Grassley claimed that the GOP staff had read all of the documents recently released.
“That’s super human,” Whitehouse said, noting that would be 7,000 pages read per hour.