Document Shows Judge Kavanaugh Misled Durbin Under Oath About His Work On Controversial Judicial Nomination

In sworn testimony in 2006, Judge Kavanaugh stated, “I’ve—I know Jim Haynes, but it was not one of the nominations that I handled;” so-called “Committee Confidential” document shows otherwise

CHICAGO – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today released a document that shows Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, gave misleading testimony in 2006 about his work on the judicial nomination of William (Jim) Haynes to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  This is yet another instance of Judge Kavanaugh providing misleading testimony under oath to the Committee—in this case, Judge Kavanaugh’s misleading answer about his work on the Haynes nomination immediately followed his false statement denying any involvement with “questions about the rules governing detention of combatants.”

In 2006, Durbin asked Judge Kavanaugh at his Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, “What was your role in the original Haynes nomination and decision to renominate him?  And at the time of the nomination, what did you know about Mr. Haynes’s role in crafting the administration’s detention and interrogation policies?”   Haynes was first nominated to the Fourth Circuit in September 2003 and was never confirmed due to bipartisan objections over his role in the Bush Administration’s detention and interrogation policies.  

Judge Kavanaugh responded, “Senator, I did not–I was not involved and am not involved in the questions about the rules governing detention of combatants or–and so I do not have the involvement with that.  And with respect to Mr. Haynes’s nomination, I’ve—I know Jim Haynes, but it was not one of the nominations that I handled.  I handled a number of nominations in the Counsel’s Office.  That was not one of the ones that I handled.” 

However, emails from November 2002 show that then-Associate White House Counsel Brett Kavanaugh played a substantial role in the decision to nominate Haynes, including examining whether Haynes “would be an across-the-board judicial conservative”.  These emails have been labeled “Committee Confidential” by Judge Kavanaugh’s former deputy, Bill Burck – the Republican lawyer who has unilaterally handled the review of Judge Kavanaugh’s documents from his time in the Bush White House.   Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats never agreed to this partisan “committee confidential” designation and sent multiple letters in August to register their objections. 

“It is clear now that not only did Judge Kavanaugh mislead me when it came to his involvement in the Bush Administration’s detention and interrogation policies, but also regarding his role in the controversial Haynes nomination,” Durbin said.  “This is a theme that we see emerge with Judge Kavanaugh time and time again – he says one thing under oath, and then the documents tell a different story.  It is no wonder the White House and Senate Republicans are rushing through this nomination and hiding much of Judge Kavanaugh’s record—the questions about this nominee’s credibility are growing every day.”  

Another email that inexplicably was originally designated “Committee Confidential” shows that then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales invited Judge Kavanaugh to play golf with Haynes in July 2003, several months before Haynes’ nomination.  Further context for this email, which contains the subject line “Gay Marriage issues,” has not been provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In a tense exchange last week, Durbin also grilled Judge Kavanaugh regarding his sworn testimony in 2006 where he denied any involvement in “questions about the rules governing detention of combatants” during his time in the Bush White House.  Judge Kavanaugh doubled down, claiming his answer in 2006 to Durbin was accurate despite Durbin’s demonstration that Judge Kavanaugh was involved with these questions in at least three documented ways. 

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have also raised concerns about the credibility and candor of Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony about his involvement in the controversial judicial nominations of William Pryor and Charles Pickering, his involvement in the Bush Administration’s warrantless surveillance efforts, and his awareness that he received stolen Democratic staff memos by Republican Senate staffer Manny Miranda. 

Durbin has served on the Senate Judiciary Committee for 20 years, during which he has considered the nominations of five current Supreme Court justices.  In August, Durbin met with Judge Kavanaugh.