Durbin Grills Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh On Secret Documents & Misleading Prior Testimony

Senator also presses Kavanaugh on women’s and workers’ rights

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today pressed President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to show the American people that he has nothing to hide by asking for his hearing to be suspended until his full White House record from 2001 to 2006 is made public, following the traditional, non-partisan National Archives process. 

“Judge Kavanaugh, this is your field – judicial nominations – this is your nomination.  You are now embarking on this journey in this Committee, denying us access to documents which were routinely provided for other judicial nominees.  You had to have known that was taking place.” Durbin said.  “If you said at this moment, ‘I don’t want to have a cloud over this nomination.  I am prepared to suggest to the Committee and ask the Committee, humbly, please withhold further hearings until you disclose everything.’  Why won’t you do that?” 

Judge Kavanaugh would not agree to suspend his hearing.

In a tense exchange, 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.

“I asked you about this when we had a meeting in my office and I still don’t understand your answer in terms of how you could state as clearly and unequivocally ‘I was not involved and am not involved in the questions about the rules governing detention of combatants.’  You were involved in the discussions about access to counsel for detainees.  You confirmed this during the meeting we had in my office and there are multiple media reports as well.  You were involved in discussions regarding detained U.S. combatants Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla.  You confirmed that in our meeting and there are emails that support that fact.  You were involved with President Bush’s 2005 signing statement on Senator John McCain’s amendment banning cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees.  And you confirmed that in the meeting,” Durbin said.  “There were no exceptions in your answer given to me in 2006 – not for litigation, or detainee access to counsel, or the McCain torture amendment.  If those three, based on the limited documents we’ve been given, are obvious, what are you trying to tell me here?  Did you really disclose, accurately, your role?”

Judge Kavanaugh doubled down, claiming his answer in 2006 to Durbin was accurate.

Additionally, Durbin questioned Judge Kavanaugh on his dissent in Garza v. Hargan¸ where Judge Kavanaugh argued that the government had not placed an undue burden on an undocumented, 17-year-old young woman’s right to obtain an abortion—despite the significant delays that the government caused in this case.  Durbin also questioned Judge Kavanaugh on Agri Processor Co. v. NLRB, where his dissent argued that undocumented slaughterhouse workers were not employees for purposes of a union vote, contrary to the plain language of the controlling law.  

Video of Durbin’s questioning to Judge Kavanaugh is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s questioning to Judge Kavanaugh is available here.

Durbin has served on the Senate Judiciary Committee for 19 years, during which he has considered the nominations of five current Supreme Court justices.  In August, Durbin met with Judge Brett Kavanaugh.