POLITICS
09/06/2018 09:35 am ET Updated Sep 06, 2018

Read The Latest From Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing

It's the third day of questioning for the Supreme Court nominee.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh has a third day of questioning in his Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

Kavanaugh’s stretch before the Senate Judiciary Committee began Tuesday, and he was questioned by senators all day Wednesday. He was tapped in July by President Donald Trump to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Read live updates from the third day of the hearing below. (You may need to refresh the page to see the latest updates.): 

10:14 p.m. ET

The hearing has ended for the day.

10:05 p.m. ET

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) asked Kavanaugh whether Trump has “unlimited prosecutorial discretion” that would allow him to target those who oppose him.

“You’ve spoken about the president’s unlimited prosecutorial discretion,” Harris asked. “Does that discretion allow him to target his political enemies for prosecution and spare his friends?”

In response, Kavanaugh pointed out that the limits of prosecutorial discretion require further study. 

Harris then asked Kavanaugh if he agreed with the principle that “a sitting president should not politicize the Justice Department,” referring to Trump’s tweet criticizing the Justice Department for indicting two Republican congressmen.

Kavanaugh declined to answer, saying that Harris’ question was “asking me to wade into the political arena.”

― Carla Herreria

9:46 p.m. ET

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) asked a series of questions on employment discrimination leading to whether Kavanaugh believes it’s morally right to fire someone on the basis of their sexual orientation. 

Kavanaugh refused to answer on the basis of current cases being litigated on the scope of civil rights in employment discrimination. 

“That’s what I want to get to the point, that you won’t give me a moral answer because of pending cases,” Booker said. 

― Doha Madani

9:40 p.m. ET 

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) used his time to ask Kavanaugh to explain the Bill of Rights to him on the premise that students don’t know basic civics. 

“Why are there five freedoms in the First Amendment?” Sasse asked. 

― Doha Madani

9:30 p.m. ET

The hearing resumed with questioning by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). Hirono discussed the Supreme Court’s recent Janus v AFSCME decision, striking a blow to public-sector unions. The court overturned the decades-long Abood precedent on labor law with a 5-4 vote. 

Hirono accused Justice Samuel Alito of giving notice to litigants that he was willing to overturn Abood. The senator asked Kavanaugh whether a judge’s prior writings can count as a “notice” to litigators that certain cases will receive special attention. 

Kavanaugh did not answer. 

― Doha Madani

9:10 p.m. ET

The hearing will break for five minutes.

― Doha Madani

9:05 p.m. ET

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) asked Kavanaugh if he could put his Heller II dissent on gun rights aside and uphold a ban on assault rifles if confirmed. Blumenthal is referring to the judge’s opinion stating bans on guns in “common use” are unconstitutional. 

Kavanaugh refused not answer, stating he’s applied Supreme Court precedent. 

“Senator, as a sitting judge I can’t make a commitment about a future case,” Kavanaugh answered.

― Doha Madani

8:18 p.m. ET

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) asked Kavanaugh to speak about his involvement with the George W. Bush administration’s policy permitting religious charities to use employment discrimination against LGBTQ people.

Kavanaugh responded that he “does not recall anything about that.”

― Lydia O’Connor

7:46 p.m. ET

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) used a large chunk of his time to praise Kavanaugh’s history of supporting cameras in the courtroom, repeatedly saying they help people learn about how the justice system works.

Kavanaugh said he considers that to be of “vital importance going forward,” just minutes after he refused to answer any of Harris’ questions about abortion rights, same-sex marriage or the Affordable Care Act.

— Lydia O’Connor

7:24 p.m. ET

Shortly after questioning Kavanaugh, Booker tweeted out 10 additional “committee confidential” documents from the nominee’s time in the White House.

Included in those documents is an email in which Kavanaugh forwards an “interesting” article to colleagues describing Roe v. Wade as “bad law.”

— Mollie Reilly

7:14 p.m. ET

Harris continued asking Kavanaugh to clarify his stance on Roe v. Wade and to say whether he thinks it’s constitutional for states to prevent women from accessing abortions.

“I don’t want to comment on hypothetical cases,” Kavanaugh said.

— Lydia O’Connor

7:08 p.m. ET

Harris repeatedly asked Kavanaugh to state whether he thinks the decision Obergefell v. Hodges, a 2015 case that upheld the right to same-sex marriage, was fair.

Kavanaugh declined to answer a question about an older case, citing precedent in previous hearings.

“Do you believe that was a great moment in the history of the court?” Harris asked.

Kavanaugh sidestepped the question again and simply reiterated what the court wrote in its decision at the time.

― Lydia O’Connor

7:03 p.m. ET

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) told Kavanaugh she received reliable information that he has had a conversation about the Mueller investigation with employees of a law firm founded by one of Trump’s personal lawyers. She asked him to state whether or not this is true.

“The answer is no,” Kavanaugh said.

— Lydia O’Connor

6:42 p.m. ET

Booker asked Kavanaugh to state whether he would recuse himself from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign.

“The suspicion is clearly there ... the president is putting someone up to protect him,” Booker said.

“Read my 12 years of opinions ... look at my whole life,” Kavanaugh responded. “I think you should conclude, respectfully, that I have the independence required.”

— Lydia O’Connor

6:36 p.m. ET

The hearing has resumed with questioning from Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who pressed Kavanaugh to say whether he has “the greatest respect for Donald Trump” despite some of the president’s offensive comments, such as ones he made bragging about sexual assault and mocking disabled people.

“I need to stay three ZIP codes away from anything political,” Kavanaugh deflected.

Booker continued to press Kavanaugh on how he would respond to Trump demanding loyalty from him, to which Kavanaugh emphasized that his loyalty as a judge is to the Constitution.

— Lydia O’Connor

5:52 p.m. ET

Just before dinner, a hard hitter from Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.): “Were you more of a John-Boy Walton type or a Ferris Bueller type?” Kavanaugh talked about sports and staying in shape.

The committee will reconvene in a half-hour. Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) will then have a chance to question the judge.

― Sara Boboltz

5:42 p.m. ET

Kavanaugh states that he does not vote in political elections in order to maintain judicial independence.

― Sara Boboltz

5:33 p.m. ET

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) compared Kavanaugh’s opinions in two cases on women’s health care: one involving Priests for Life, a Catholic organization that opposed the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate, and one involving the pregnant undocumented teen who sought an abortion in Texas.

In the former case, Kavanaugh argued that the ACA put an unfair burden on employers because it required they fill out a certain two-page form. In the latter, Kavanaugh argued that the teen should consult with a third party before obtaining the abortion, arguably increasing the burden placed on her because she had already complied with Texas law.

“You really want to limit women’s reproductive rights,” Hirono said.

― Sara Boboltz

4:35 p.m. ET

Kavanaugh had a bizarre back-and-forth with Blumenthal on whether he has spoken with anyone in the White House about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Kavanaugh argued the phrasing of his questions.

“I’ve had no discussions of the kind that I think you’re asking about,” he answered.

“I’m asking about the kind you’re thinking about,” Blumenthal replied.

“I haven’t had any discussions about the kind I’m thinking about either,” Kavanaugh said.

“Well, I’m going to take that as a no, which you’re giving under oath, and if we can put aside the humor for a moment,” the senator said.

― Nina Golgowski

4:29 p.m. ET

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) has confronted Kavanaugh with a 2003 email that shows that the judge once questioned whether Roe v. Wade was “settled law” or could be overturned.

When asked, Kavanaugh said he could not remember whether he was made aware of this email on Wednesday, which is when Blumenthal appeared to refer to the document during questioning.

― Nina Golgowski

4:06 p.m. ET

The hearing returned with introductions to some of the young basketball players Kavanaugh coaches. All of the girls are now seated in the front row.

― Nina Golgowski

3:56 p.m. ET

The hearing is taking a brief recess.

― Nina Golgowski

3:55 p.m. ET

Kavanaugh said he agrees with the U.S. v. Nixon decision after confronted by Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) with a past quote of his that suggested otherwise.

“I’ve said that Nixon was one of the four greatest moments in Supreme Court history,” Kavanaugh asserted several times.

That landmark case in 1974 resulted in a unanimous decision against Nixon, requiring him to turn over subpoenaed materials.

― Nina Golgowski

3:45 p.m. ET

Senators are repeatedly pressing Kavanaugh on whether President Richard Nixon violated the law or U.S. Constitution by firing his special prosecutor during the Watergate scandal.

― Nina Golgowski

3:19 p.m. ET

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) brought up recent attacks on journalists and libel law, asking if public officials are entitled to sue the media for any standard less than actual malice.

Kavanaugh said he’s “not aware” of effort to deviate from the current standard. Asked about reporters being allowed to protect confidential sources, Kavanaugh called such sources “an important part” of reporters’ privileges.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump suggested on Twitter that politicians should change libel law in response to media that’s critical of him and his presidency.

― Nina Golgowski

2:50 p.m. ET

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) brought up Kavanaugh having been part of the legal team against returning then-6-year-old Elian Gonzalez to Cuba in 2000.

Kavanaugh said he worked pro bono and “got involved because I was asked to get involved.”

― Nina Golgowski

1:28 p.m. ET

The Kavanaugh hearing is taking a 30-minute lunch break. Two Senate floor votes will take place after that.

― Nina Golgowski

1:15 p.m. ET

Kavanaugh, asked by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) if his judgment on the Supreme Court would be compromised by previous “promises or guarantees,” answered no.

“Have you made any promises or guarantees to anyone about how you would vote on any case that might come before you if you’re confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States?” Lee asked.

“No,” the nominee answered.

“Have you had any improper conversation with anyone about the Mueller investigation?” the senator pressed.

“No,” he replied.

Asked if the president is above the law, Kavanaugh said: “The president is not above the law. No one is above the law in the United States of America.”

― Nina Golgowski

11:19 a.m. ET

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) brought up the Roe v. Wade email again, throwing Kavanaugh a bone by asking him whether it was about what legal scholars have said about the decision, not his personal views. Kavanaugh said yes, that was his intention.

— Marina Fang

11:04 a.m. ET

Booker and Hirono have released the aforementioned documents.

Read more on this from HuffPost’s Sara Boboltz.

— Marina Fang

10:58 a.m. ET

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) read out Kavanaugh’s Roe v. Wade email casting doubt on whether the case is “settled law.” Referring back to her questioning on Wednesday, she asked: “Do you believe it is correctly settled?”

Kavanaugh said his email was a draft letter “referring to the views of legal scholars,” saying it was an issue of “accuracy.”

— Marina Fang

10:42 a.m. ET

“All of us are ready to face that rule on the bogus designation of ‘committee confidential,’” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said, after Republican senators claimed that there is in fact a rule.

“Just because there is a Senate rule doesn’t mean it can be misapplied or misconstrued or misused. I think even the threat raised by one of my colleagues here is unfortunate,” he said, referring to Cornyn.

Grassley cut off the debate over the documents, and questioning is now underway.

— Marina Fang

10:31 a.m. ET

The sparring has continued to escalate. “Bring the charges. Bring them,” Booker told Cornyn, who called for a vote to expel Booker from the hearing.

— Marina Fang

10:23 a.m. ET

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) objected to the lack of transparency on the process of deeming these documents confidential.

“There is no process for ‘committee confidential,’” she said, explaining that in the past, both parties have had to agree to this.

“Our side had nothing whatsoever to do with this,” she said.

— Marina Fang

10:15 a.m. ET

Also joining in was Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). She said she stands with Booker, noting that she referred to a confidential document during her questioning Wednesday and plans to release it to the press.

“I would defy anyone,” she said.

— Marina Fang

10:13 a.m. ET

Democrats continued to pile on about the documents. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he stands with Booker if the latter faces “retribution.”

“Count me in,” he said.

— Marina Fang

10:06 a.m. ET

Some context from HuffPost’s Jennifer Bendery: Progressive groups have been clamoring for Democratic senators to release these records that have been deemed “committee confidential.” 

The New York Times obtained some of them in a story published this morning. 

― Marina Fang

10:03 a.m. ET

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) argued that these documents deemed confidential to the Judiciary Committee should be publicly released before senators proceed to confirm Kavanaugh.

“We are literally trying to get at the truth here,” Blumenthal said.

— Marina Fang

9:58 a.m. ET

During a heated exchange about the documents, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) threatened to release a confidential document from Kavanaugh about racial profiling. He said that he is willing to accept potential consequences if Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) deems that he has violated rules. Booker argued that releasing the document would not endanger national security.

— Marina Fang

9:56 a.m. ET

As a staff secretary in the George W. Bush White House, Kavanaugh questioned whether Roe v. Wade could be considered “settled law” in a 2003 email leaked to The New York Times and published today.

— Sara Boboltz 

9:49 a.m. ET

More protesters on the Hill today.

— Marina Fang

9:43 a.m. ET

And we’re back. Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) brought up Democratic senators’ requests for additional documents, saying he would respond to specific requests.

― Sara Boboltz

9:06 a.m. ET

Protesters are already starting to demonstrate on the Hill, with several in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-Iowa) office. Grassley is the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman.

― Paige Lavender

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