At Wednesday’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) threw Brett Kavanaugh off his flow of so far providing steady and confident answers to senators’ questions with a line of inquiry about allegations that emails were stolen from Leahy’s office during the confirmation wars of the George W. Bush administration.
Kavanaugh at the time was involved in the judicial confirmation process for the White House, and on Wednesday Leahy zeroed in on testimony Kavanaugh later gave during his confirmation to a lower court judgeship.
Leahy presented Kavanaugh with claims the judge made during the mid-2000s confirmation hearings about never receiving the stolen emails. Kavanaugh said that his comments then were 100 percent accurate.
Leahy asked him specifically about information provided to him by Manny Miranda, then a Republican staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee, about what senators were planning to ask Bush’s judicial nominees. Miranda, a Senate investigation revealed, had been covertly reading Democratic staffers emails and leaking them to right-wing outlets.
Kavanaugh explained that broadly, as part of the judicial confirmation process, the White House was in contact with the offices of senators on both sides of the aisle, and sought to be aware of what interested those senators regarding the nominees.
Leahy then offered Kavanaugh an email Miranda sent Kavanaugh in July 2002 indicating that Leahy’s office was interested in a nominee’s financial ties to certain groups. Leahy asked Kavanaugh if he was aware that that information was coming from emails stolen from Leahy.
Kavanaugh said that the information came from the common practice of hearing about senators’ interest through discussions on the Hill.
Leahy didn’t lay off, and badgered Kavanaugh about the specifics of the information offered by Miranda, while claiming that it came from private emails sent to Leahy the night before.
Kavanaugh appeared confused and asked Leahy to point him to relevant portions of the Miranda email in front of him. Leahy appeared to allude to other emails that might have shown Miranda providing stolen information to Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh continued to waffle around Leahy’s questions, which included inquiries about whether he met Miranda in locations other than the White House or the Capitol.
Leahy then asked Kavanaugh if he would be surprised if there was an email showing that he got information from somebody’s spying. Kavanaugh asked if such an email exists, prompting Leahy to coyly allude to the thousands of Kavanaugh documents that have been deemed committee confidential — meaning they can’t be shared publicly.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley jumped in at this point, his voice raised, to defend his handling of the document production, and had a back-and-forth with Leahy about the getting permission to use committee confidential materials during the hearings.
At one point, Leahy claimed that there were confidential documents related to this line of inquiry and that he hoped to make them public for the next round of questioning.
Through it all, Kavanaugh insisted that he did not mislead the committee in his previous testimony, despite Leahy’s insinuations.
“That testimony up there is true — 100 percent,” Kavanaugh said.