Supreme Court Nominations

Live blog of confirmation hearings, Day 3: Kavanaugh won't say whether president's character matters

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Screenshot of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh./PBS.

Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee pressed Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh about his views of presidential power, gay rights and other hot-button issues on Thursday.

Kavanaugh avoided answering questions about his own beliefs, as well as his views of recent precedent and issues that are likely to come before the court.

In an exchange with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Kavanaugh refused to say whether he thinks character matters for the president of the United States, and he refused to commit to recusing himself from any Supreme Court matters concerning the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Kavanaugh did say that a court order requiring a president to do something or prohibiting a president from doing something is the final word in our system. He also said his record shows his commitment to the independence of the judiciary.

Kavanaugh told senators he doesn’t even vote in elections because he wants to avoid the appearance of partisanship.

In another exchange with Booker, Kavanaugh refused to say whether it would be wrong to fire someone who is gay. He also said he couldn’t recall whether he took a position when former President George W. Bush supported a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Kavanaugh worked in the Bush administration from 2001 to 2006 as a lawyer and staff secretary.

He added that since that time, there has been a sea change in America’s attitudes towards gay marriage. And he said he hires people because of their talents and abilities, rather than other characteristics. He acknowledged, however, that he has never officiated a gay marriage.

At another point in the hearing when he was questioned about gay marriage precedent, Kavanaugh quoted from the opinion by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy in Masterpiece Cakeshop. Kennedy had written that gay people and gay couples “cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth.”

The live blog of Thursday’s hearings is below.

9:54 p.m. ET. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., asked Kavanaugh whether it would be wrong to fire someone for being gay. Kavanaugh replied that cases considering the scope of employment laws are being litigated now, and he can’t answer. But he said that he hires people because of their talents and abilities.

Booker asked whether Kavanaugh had any involvement in the effort by former President George W. Bush to support a constitutional amendment banning same sex-marriage.

Kavanaugh said the issue was discussed in the Bush White House, but he doesn’t recall if he advocated a position. He added that since that time, there has been a sea change in America’s attitudes towards gay marriage.

Booker asked whether Kavanaugh had ever officiated a gay marriage. Kavanaugh said he has not.

Booker asked Kavanaugh to express his opinion on same-sex marriage. Kavanaugh said the law of the land protects that right.

Previously in the hearing, Kavanaugh had read from an opinion by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy in response to questions about gay marriage. Kennedy had written in Masterpiece Cakeshop that gay people and gay couples “cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth.”

9:34 p.m. ET. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, said the Brennan Center for Justice has reported that outside groups have spent almost $3.5 million to campaign for Kavanaugh’s nomination. One group supporting Kavanaugh is the National Rifle Association, Hirono said.

Hirono referred to an NRA ad saying Kavanaugh would break a 4-4 split on guns at the Supreme Court. Hirono asked why the NRA was spending money to get him confirmed.

Kavanaugh said there have been many ads for and against him, and he would be an independent justice.

9:05 p.m. ET. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., asks whether Kavanaugh would put aside his Heller 2 dissent and uphold a ban on assault weapons on the Supreme Court

Blumenthal said he thought about bringing posters showing what happened in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. A ban on assault weapons might have saved the children, Blumenthal said. Now we face the specter of a new kind of weapon, 3D printed guns, he said.

The test you are imposing in the Heller 2 opinion to determine which weapons can’t be banned is out of touch with the real world, Blumenthal told Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh said he would consider all the arguments if a case came to the Supreme Court.

8:50 p.m. ET. Sen. Michael Lee, R-Utah, asked Kavanaugh why he is using a Sharpie pen to take notes. Kavanaugh replied he was using the pen so he can see what he is writing.

8:35 p.m. ET. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said Kavanaugh had mentioned United States v. Nixon as an important opinion. Whitehouse noted that Kavanaugh had always described the case as involving a trial court subpoena issued for the Nixon tapes.

Whitehouse wanted to know whether the facts of the case would apply to a grand jury subpoena, which would be the type of subpoena issued in the Mueller investigation. Did Kavanaugh’s repeated reference to the trial court subpoena provide an “escape hatch” that would allow him to rule that grand jury subpoenas are different? Whitehouse asked.

Kavanaugh said he had described the holding, and he couldn’t discuss hypotheticals.

Whitehouse also asked whether Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the conservative Federalist Society, was a contact in Kavanaugh’s phone. Kavanaugh said the answer was yes and he had known Leo for 25 years. Leo went on leave to help President Donald Trump pick the Supreme Court nominee, according to prior coverage by the Daily Beast.

Whitehouse said during the hearing on Wednesday that the Federalist Society “was insourced into the White House” to recommend judicial nominees to the Donald Trump administration.

8:15 p.m. ET. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked Kavanaugh about a July 11, 2001, email from his time in the George W. Bush administration. In the email, Kavanaugh said he had a preliminary strategy to respond to concerns about administration policies that allowed federal funding for religious organizations that discriminated against LGBTQ individuals.

Kavanaugh said he didn’t remember the particulars of the email, but Bush wanted religious organizations to participate as equals in American society.

Kavanaugh added that Bush believed deeply in equality for all Americans. He also said he had spoken about Bush judicial nominations to the Log Cabin Republicans, a group that describes itself as as representing LGBT conservatives and allies.

7:26 p.m. ET. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., noted that Kavanaugh had given a 2017 speech praising former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist for stemming the tide of the freewheeling creation of unenumerated rights. Those rights are protected by the Constitution even if they aren’t specifically listed.

Harris listed the unenumerated rights as the right to vote, to have children, to control the upbringing of your children, to refuse medical care, to love the partner of your choice, to marry and to have an abortion. She then asked Kavanaugh which of those rights he wanted to roll back or end.

Kavanaugh responded with a reference to the Glucksberg decision establishing a test that recognizes unenumerated rights.

Harris pressed Kavanaugh again to list the unenumerated rights he would like to end, and began by asking him about the first right on her list: the right to vote.

Kavanaugh again referred to the court decision, and Harris moved on to her next question.

7:05 p.m. ET. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said she had received reliable information that Kavanaugh had a discussion about special counsel Robert Mueller or Mueller’s investigation with the Kasowitz Benson Torres law firm, where a name partner is a lawyer for President Donald Trump.

Harris said many people thought Kavanaugh was equivocal when he said he had no inappropriate conversations. Harris asked Kavanaugh to be more specific. Had Kavanaugh ever been a part of a conversation with Kasowitz Benson lawyers about the special counsel investigation? she asked.

The answer is no, Kavanaugh replied.

6:50 p.m. ET. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said Kavanaugh has spoken a lot about character, including the character of the president he once served, President George W. Bush. When Kavanaugh was sworn in to the D.C. Circuit, he had said he had the greatest respect for Bush, the president who appointed him.

Booker asked whether Kavanaugh still thinks character matters for the president of the United States, and whether Kavanaugh would say he has the greatest respect for Trump.

Booker said the news media is keeping track of the number of misleading statements made by President Donald Trump. The president has bragged about sexually assaulting women, he has claimed a federal judge wasn’t able to do his job because of his heritage, and he has criticized his attorney general.

Kavanaugh declined to make a statement about the matter.

Booker continued. Trump has demanded loyalty of everyone around him, and the public may have a suspicion regarding Kavanaugh’s elevation to the Supreme Court, Booker said.

Kavanaugh said his only loyalty is to the Constitution. He said Booker should read his opinions, letters of support and his teaching evaluations, and should look at his whole life. Booker should conclude that he has the independence to be a good judge, Kavanaugh said.

Booker said it’s important that the Supreme Court be above suspicion, and Kavanaugh could alleviate that suspicion by agreeing to recuse himself from any matters coming before that court concerning the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Kavanaugh said he could not commit to how he would decide any particular case, and that includes whether he would participate in a particular case.

5:48 p.m. ET. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., asked Kavanaugh about his high school years at Georgetown Prep, a Jesuit school. Kennedy asked Kavanaugh whether he was more of a John-boy Walton type or a Ferris Bueller type.

Kavanaugh replied that he loved sports, he worked hard at school, and he had a lot of friends. He did not offer an answer as to his type.

5:30 p.m. ET. Kavanaugh said that he has decided not to vote in political elections, following the lead of the second Justice John Marshall Harlan.

Kavanaugh said he is not saying that other judges should also refuse to vote in elections, but he thought the decision was right for him. He noted that judges don’t attend political rallies or support political candidates, which is part of maintaining independence in the federal judiciary.

4:55 p.m. ET. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., asked Kavanaugh whether he ever discussed the special counsel investigation with anyone at the White House. Kavanaugh said that, if he understood the question correctly, his answer was that he hadn’t had any discussions regarding Robert Mueller or the special counsel investigation with anyone at the White House.

Blumenthal asked whether Kavanaugh had discussed the special investigation with anyone at the Kasowitz Benson Torres law firm, where a name partner is a lawyer for President Donald Trump. Kavanaugh said he is pretty confident that he hadn’t had such a discussion, although he doesn’t have the full roster of everyone who works at the firm.

Blumenthal also pressed Kavanaugh on whether he agreed with tweets by President Donald Trump that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was incompetent, her mind was shot, and she should resign. Kavanaugh responded that he didn’t want to get involved in a political controversy.

4:50 p.m. ET. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., was among a number of Democratic senators asking Kavanaugh about an email leaked to the New York Times regarding Roe v. Wade and settled law.

According to the Times, the March 2003 email concerned a draft op-ed being pushed by supporters of a George W. Bush presidential nominee that could be submitted under the name of women who oppose abortion.

A sentence in the op-ed said, “it is widely accepted by legal scholars across the board that Roe v. Wade and its progeny are the settled law of the land.” Kavanaugh recommended deleting the sentence with a note saying, “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since court can always overrule its precedent, and three current justices on the court would do so.”

Kavanaugh said the email merely referred to his impression of what legal scholars think.

3:25 p.m. ET. Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Del., said he had a concern that Kavanaugh was perfectly happy to use all of the tools of the independent counsel law when he worked for Kenneth Starr in the Clinton investigation, then expressed enthusiasm for eliminating the law in later years.

The law, repealed in 1999, required a three-judge panel to appoint an independent counsel; special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed under Justice Department regulations calling for appointment by the attorney general.

Coons said he believed Kavanaugh believed in a unitary executive theory that holds the president can fire any special prosecutor at will. Kavanaugh has repeatedly said he supports the traditional way of appointing special counsels, Coons said, but Kavanaugh won’t say whether he supports the ability of the president to fire a special counsel at will.

Coons said he believed that if Kavanaugh were direct about his views, his nomination would be put at risk.

Kavanaugh said he would keep an open mind if there were some kind of for-cause protection for firing special counsel under current Justice Department regulations.

3:20 p.m. ET. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., asked Kavanaugh about overturning precedent.

Kavanaugh said Supreme Court justices weighing whether to overturn precedent should consider: whether the initial decision was not just wrong, but grievously wrong; whether the decision was inconsistent with law that grew up around it; the real-world consequences of the decision; and whether there was reliance on the decision.

Kavanaugh cited Plessy v. Ferguson and the Dred Scott decision as opinions that were wrong from the outset.

Kavanaugh said Thurgood Marshall knew Plessy’s separate-but-equal doctrine was wrong, but he knew he needed to develop a litigation strategy that undermined its foundations. Marshall was able to build up a body of law showing the real-world consequences of the decision. His brilliant strategic visions laid the groundwork for Brown v. Board of Education, Kavanaugh said.

3:01 p.m. ET. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., asked Kavanaugh about his 2009 University of Minnesota Law Review article in which he recommended that Congress pass a law to defer criminal and civil actions against sitting presidents until after the president leaves office.

The article said presidents shouldn’t be burdened with civil suits, criminal prosecutions and criminal investigations while in office. Kavanaugh had argued that impeachment rather than indictment is the best way to deal with a president who “does something dastardly.”

How can you have impeachment proceedings without an investigation? Klobuchar asked. Doesn’t that eviscerate the impeachment right in the Constitution? she asked.

Not at all, Kavanaugh replied. Congress still has the power to investigate.

2:35 p.m. ET. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law linked to Kavanaugh emails released Thursday by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., regarding racial profiling.

Booker asserted Thursday morning that he planned to defy committee rules to release the “committee confidential” documents and he would accept the consequences. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, also said she would release documents designated as “committee confidential.” Hirono later tweeted the documents.

Republicans said later in the day that the emails sought by Democrats were already cleared for release, or would be cleared for release “imminently.”

2:20 p.m. ET. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said Kavanaugh may have served as a confidential source for journalists in the investigation by independent counsel Kenneth Starr. Journalists can’t report on that information absent a waiver by Kavanaugh, Whitehouse said.

Whitehouse asked whether Kavanaugh would now allow reporters to report on any information he may have delivered to them as a confidential source.

Kavanaugh said he spoke to reporters at the direction and authorization of Starr, and he could not waive confidentiality without Starr’s acquiescence.

Whitehouse also noted that Kavanaugh had written memos when he worked in the independent counsel investigation in which he asserted that the Clinton White House was conducting a “presidentially approved smear campaign” against Starr and there was a “disgraceful effort to undermine the rule of law.”

Whitehouse asked whether Kavanaugh’s views had changed when he wrote those statements.

Kavanaugh some of his heated language was in a memo he drafted late at night. He said he can’t discuss current events.

1:17 p.m. ET. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said his staff members stayed up all night trying to obtain permission to release every “committee confidential” document requested by Democrats. Grassley said the documents will be released “imminently.”

1:16 p.m. ET. Sen. Michael Lee, R-Utah, revisited a line of mysterious questioning on Wednesday by Sen. Kamala Harris-D-Calif.

Harris had asked whether Kavanaugh had ever had a conversation with anyone at the Kasowitz Benson Torres law firm about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, is a name partner.

Kavanaugh said he had no memory of any conversations during Harris’ questioning on Wednesday, but he would be happy to have his memory refreshed. Harris offered no specifics.

On Thursday, Lee said Kasowitz Benson has 350 lawyers in nine U.S. cities, and Kasowitz himself probably could not name every lawyer who works there. Lee said he learned last night that former Sen. Joseph Lieberman works there. Kavanaugh said he was not aware of that either.

Lee asked Kavanaugh whether he had made any promises or guarantees on how he would vote on any case that might come before the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh said he had not.

Lee asked whether Kavanaugh had any improper conversations with anyone regarding the Mueller investigation. Kavanaugh said he had not.

Lee asked whether the president is absolutely immune from any legal action, civil or criminal. Kavanaugh said the president is not above the law, and no one is above the law.

1:01 p.m. ET. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., expressed concern about Kavanaugh’s views of presidential power in the age of President Donald Trump. Durbin said the worry is that Kavanaugh believes in a unitary executive theory that would give sweeping powers to the president, including the power to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

Kavanaugh said he has made clear that a court order that requires a president to do something or prohibits a president from doing something is the final word in our system.

Kavanaugh said his record shows his commitment to the independence of the judiciary as the crown jewel in our Constitution. No one is above the law in the United States, and that is a foundational principle, Kavanaugh said.

12:08 p.m. ET. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said the committee could not have received records from Kavanaugh’s time in the George W. Bush administration without the assistance of Bush’s legal team. Grassley said the National Archives has only 13 archivists who handle Bush’s records, and they can review only about 1,000 pages a week.

Democrats have questioned the power given to Bush lawyer Bill Burck to determine which records get released.

11:49 a.m. ET. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., questioned Kavanaugh about a Republican Judiciary Committee aide, Manuel Miranda, said to have hacked into Democratic emails to aid in the preparation of judicial nominees during the George W. Bush administration.

Leahy said he received permission to release the Miranda emails as of 3 a.m. on Thursday. One email had the subject line “highly confidential,” Leahy said. Another said Miranda had received a draft Leahy letter in strictest confidence, and Kavanaugh should take no action on it absent explicit obstructions. Yet another email had the subject line “spying” and referred to a mole. “This is not overly subtle,” Leahy said.

Kavanaugh repeated his assertion, first made on Wednesday, that he didn’t know emails from Miranda about senators’ views on judicial nominees relied on stolen material.

Kavanaugh said the emails from Miranda did not raise red flags because staff members often discuss their boss’s thinking, and the type of information in the emails is standard stuff.

Miranda told the New York Times that he never told Kavanaugh that Republican staff members had accessed Democratic files.

11:35 a.m. ET. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, complained that protesters were trying to turn the Kavanaugh hearing into a circus. He criticized “frankly sick people out there” and questioned whether we have reached a point where anyone who supports a nominee must be destroyed. Some people have unfairly been caught up in the mob mentality, he said.

11:15 a.m. ET. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., questioned Kavanaugh about his work in the George W. Bush administration.

Feinstein asked whether Kavanaugh had worked on any issues regarding women’s reproductive health or abortion during his time in the White House. Kavanaugh said Bush was an anti-abortion candidate, and some of those issues might have crossed his desk, though he can’t remember specifics.

Feinstein asked Kavanaugh about an opinion by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel that concluded harsh interrogations of terrorism suspects were legal. Was the opinion correct? Kavanaugh said the president does not have the authority to disregard statutes passed by Congress regarding the war effort, except in narrowly described circumstances.

Feinstein said that the current president has stated that he could authorize techniques that are worse than waterboarding. Feinstein asked Kavanaugh how he felt about that.

Kavanaugh said he can’t comment on current events, but as a judge, he would follow the law. Kavanaugh said he knows what the law is and he has written about separation of powers.

Feinstein asked Kavanaugh about a December 2005 signing statement by Bush asserting the right to ignore the torture ban in some circumstances. Feinstein asked Kavanaugh if he had any involvement.

Feinstein said the signing statement would have crossed his desk, and there had been debate about it. But Kavanaugh said it wasn’t his job to supplant Bush’s legal advisers on the issue.

Kavanaugh said Bush felt it was his job to keep America safe, and he wanted to do everything he could toward that end, within the limits of the law. It was up to the lawyers, therefore, to make sure they were giving sound advice and that they had “a backbone,” Kavanaugh said.

Oval office lawyers need a backbone to say no even in pressurized moments, Kavanaugh said.

10:45 a.m. ET. On the subject of cameras in the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh said he would keep an open mind and listen to the views of others, including senators and Supreme Court justices. He noted that some justices had expressed support for cameras during their confirmation hearings but then changed their mind after joining the bench.

Kavanaugh said there hasn’t been much discussion about audio or video release of the decision announcements, which is distinct from oral arguments.

10:40 a.m. ET. Kavanaugh discusses cases in which he ruled for the little guy. In one case, he ruled the Social Security Administration had wrongly denied benefits to a woman with a history of mental illness. In another case, he ruled against an insurer seeking to limit its payout for a child victim of sexual abuse. In a third, he ruled for a union accusing Wal-Mart of unfair labor practices.

10:30 a.m. ET. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., suggests that committee members make all of their emails regarding the Kavanaugh confirmation available to the public.

10:28 a.m. ET. Sen. Michael Lee, R-Utah, says the “committee confidential” document referenced by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., has been approved for release.

10:27 a.m. ET. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, reads Senate Rule 295 on disclosure of confidential documents, which carries a penalty of expulsion.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., challenges Cornyn to apply the rule. “Bring it,” can be heard in the background.

10:22 a.m. ET. Sen. Michael Lee, D-Utah, said some Kavanaugh documents aren’t available because of the Presidential Records Act. The custodian of the documents holds and exercises a privilege on behalf of the George W. Bush administration, he said. The custodian agreed to hand the documents over to the Senate with the understanding that the committee can go through a process to release designated documents, he said.

Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Del., said the documents belong to the American people. Coons said the Presidential Records Act applies only to classified documents, and the Kavanaugh documents don’t have that designation.

10:14 a.m. ET. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, says she also referenced a “committee confidential” document on Wednesday, and she will release that document to the press.

10:12 a.m. ET. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said he objects to lawyer Bill Burck making the “committee confidential” destination. “Who is this man?” Durbin said. “He is the filter to decide what the American people will see about this nominee.”

Durbin said Burck is a former assistant to Kavanaugh, and he is told Burck is a lawyer for George W. Bush and White House counsel Don McGahn. He is also the lawyer for Steve Bannon, Durbin said.

10:08 a.m. ET. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said that in the future, both sides need to reach a written agreement regarding “committee confidential” documents. Both sides should agree on who determines which documents must be confidential, and what the criteria are for making that determination.

10:04 a.m. ET. Sen. Michael Lee, R-Utah, said he disagrees with the assertion that the document review process is arbitrary. There are still means available to clear selected documents, he said.

10:01 a.m. ET. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said he is reserving the right to release “committee confidential” documents before a confirmation vote so his colleagues can learn the truth.

9:57 a,m. ET. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., complained that “committee confidential” documents aren’t personal, confidential or sensitive, and he doesn’t acquiesce in any rule preventing release of the documents.

In the past, Whitehouse said, there was a bipartisan process that led to agreement on “committee confidential” documents. That process wasn’t followed this time, Whitehouse said.

9:52 a.m. ET. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., says he is going to violate Senate rules by releasing a “committee confidential” document on racial profiling. “I’m saying I’m knowingly violating the rules,” Booker said, and he will accept the consequences.

9:45 a.m. ET. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said senators who complained about “committee confidential” documents did not take advantage of his Aug. 22 letter inviting them to list private documents that wanted to make public.

Grassley said only Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., responded to his letter by requesting release of documents. “She gets an A for cooperation,” Grassley said.

Grassley said he is nonetheless asking the Justice Department to permit release of documents requested by Democrats on Wednesday, and he believes the senators will have authorization to use the documents by the end of the day.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., criticized the labeling of documents as “committee confidential.” The confidential designation given to an email on racial profiling shows “the absurdity of the process,” which is a “sham,” Booker said.

The original story is below:

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces additional questioning on Thursday as his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing resumes.

A dispute over Kavanaugh records is likely to continue as some Democratic questioners on Wednesday referred to emails marked “committee confidential,” but were not able to show Kavanaugh the documents in an open hearing.

One such document was marked “racial profiling,” according to Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said he didn’t know why the document had a “committee confidential” label, but it was unfair to question Kavanaugh about it unless he could see it.

Other “committee confidential” documents concerned warrantless surveillance and hacked Democratic emails. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., had asked Kavanaugh if he was aware of the hacking by a Republican aide to help prepare judicial nominees during the administration of George W. Bush. Kavanaugh said he never knew or suspected any hacking.

Kavanaugh was an associate counsel to Bush from 2001 to 2003, a senior associate counsel to Bush in 2003, and assistant and staff secretary to Bush from 2003 to 2006.

Democrats have complained about the release of more than 42,000 pages of “committee confidential” documents on the eve of the confirmation hearings. Another 147,000 pages of previously released documents have the same designation, meaning senators can read them but the public cannot.

Also spurring Democrats’ ire, the White House has withheld nearly 102,000 pages of documents concerning Kavanaugh’s work as a lawyer in the Bush White House due to a claim of executive privilege.

Democrats also complained about a 35-month “black hole” regarding Kavanaugh’s career, a reference to unreleased documents concerning Kavanaugh’s work as staff secretary to Bush. According to a Washington Post editorial, Republicans didn’t request the staff secretary records.

Related articles: “Live blog of confirmation hearings, Day 1: Kavanaugh pledges an open mind in every case” “Live blog of confirmation hearings, Day 2: Kavanaugh answers ‘Purple Party’ president hypothetical”

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