Newly Released Emails Show Brett Kavanaugh Perjured Himself at Least Four Times
Are Republicans really going to confirm a judge who will need to be impeached? That appears to be the case with Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanbugh.
Formerly confidential emails have been released that show the Supreme Court nominee contradicting statements he made under oath to the Senate.
On Thursday, documents heroically released today by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), the Democrats prove that Brett Kavanaugh has misled the Senate at least four times, and the censored emails have been withheld not because of national security or executive privilege, but, at least in part, because they make Kavanaugh look bad.
The documents show Brett Kavanaugh’s antipathy towards minorities and willingness to entertain Korematsu-style racial profiling and his willingness to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Those views are problematic, but typical of modern American conservatives.
What’s atypical is for American senators to suborn perjury. But that’s what Republicans are doing by supporting Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. During his confirmation hearings, Brett Kavanaugh was shown to have perjured himself before Congress in 2006.
In 2006, Kavanaugh told Ted Kennedy that he was “not involved” in Bill Pryor’s nomination to the Eleventh Circuit. In fact, he was involved. In documents made public during Senator Pat Leahy’s questioning, Kavanaugh is shown to have recommended Pryor, and invited to actively discuss Pyror’s hearings.
In a world where the President of the United States will lie about what time it is while standing in front of a clock, this may seem like de minimis lying. We’ve become so accustomed to people lying and then still being put in positions of public trust that we tend to forget that truthfulness should be a minimum requirement for office.
But there’s more. Kavanaugh had a good, albeit nefarious, reason to lie to Ted Kennedy. His involvement in those hearings was aided by documents stolen from Senator Leahy and other senators on the Judiciary Committee. Documents released yesterday show that Kavanaugh was on emails which had, and I’m not making this up, “SPYING” in the actual subject head:
When Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked him Thursday, “did you interview William Pryor?” Kavanaugh hedged a bit, saying “I don’t believe so. It’s possible but I don’t believe so.”
Leahy responded by entering a formerly-confidential email into the record that states clearly that Kavanaugh actually did interview Pryor. “How did the Pryor interview go?” he was asked in December, 2002. “Call me,” he replied.
Even if Kavanaugh’s 2018 hedge protects him against perjury, his flat denial in 2006—only three years after the Pryor nomination itself—is clearly a false statement given under oath.
Leahy challenged Judge Kavanaugh over his role in “Memogate,” a 2003 scandal in which a low-level Republican aide named Manuel Miranda stole Democratic memos from a shared server. At his 2006 hearing, Kavanaugh denied receiving any stolen documents. Now, Kavanaugh says that while he may have received stolen documents, he didn’t know they were stolen.
Moreover—and ironically, given the quasi-confidential nature of the emails in question—we now know that Kavanaugh received Democratic documents marked as confidential. A just-released email from Miranda, dated July 28, 2002, says that “Senator Leahy’s staff has distributed a confidential letter to Dem[ocratic] Counsel.” Miranda does not say how he somehow came into the possession of this confidential letter—though he does impudently “ask that no action be taken by any of your offices… except as I request.”
One of Kavanaugh’s most ludicrous denials is about a June 5, 2003, email regarding Supreme Court confirmations that has the subject line “spying” and the first line “I have a friend who is a mole for us on the left.” “None of this raised a red flag with you?” Leahy asked incredulously. “It did not, Senator,” answered Kavanaugh. “Again, people have friends across the aisle who they talk to… and there was a lot of bipartisanship on the committee.”
Wait—so being a “mole” and performing “spying” is actually a sign of bipartisan comity? Credit to Judge Kavanaugh for making such statements with a straight face.
A third clearly false statement made by Kavanaugh under oath regards his involvement in President Bush’s “Terrorist Surveillance Program,” known by most people as the warrantless wiretapping program.
On Wednesday, Judge Kavanaugh said he first learned about it from a December 2005 article in The New York Times.
On Thursday, an email was released showing that Kavanaugh emailed John Yoo, the Department of Justice lawyer responsible for the Bush-era “torture memo,” about the program on Sept. 17, 2001. “Any results yet on the 4A implications of random/constant surveillance of phone and e-mail conversations of non-citizens who are in the United States when the purpose of the surveillance is to prevent terrorist/criminal violence?” Kavanaugh asked.
Unless there’s some bogus distinction to be drawn between acts of random/constant surveillance and a program of random/constant surveillance, that makes Kavanaugh’s statement on Wednesday a lie under oath.
Grabbing most of the headlines are Kavanaugh’s somewhat conflicting statements on Roe v. Wade. In fact, this is the least smoking of the emails’ smoking guns, but given that the entire confirmation process has been owned by this one issue, the disproportionate attention is understandable.
At issue is an op-ed which Kavanaugh was drafting which originally said that “it is widely accepted by legal scholars across the board that Roe v. Wade and its progeny are the settled law of the land”—language quite similar to that used by Kavanaugh himself in his confirmation hearings.
In a 2003 email, however, Kavanaugh said “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.”
Asked about the apparent contradiction Thursday, Kavanaugh noted that it is factually true that “all legal scholars” do not agree that Roe is the settled law of the land. Of course, “all legal scholars” don’t agree on anything at all, which is why phrases like that are known as “weasel words,” since they allow the writer to weasel out of meaning anything.
Really, Kavanaugh’s careful choice of words—precedent rather than settled law—is yet another bit of clear evidence that he does not believe Roe, which he has called part of a “tide of freewheeling judicial creation of individual rights,” is beyond overturning. Obviously.
Finally, the just-released emails contain a treasure trove of compromising, embarrassing statements by Kavanaugh—and no security concerns. This is exactly what Democrats have been saying for weeks: that President Bush’s lawyer (formerly Kavanaugh’s deputy), the Trump White House, and Sen. Charles Grassley cannot be trusted to edit this material.
Most damning is Kavanaugh’s (rejected) proposal that John Yoo, as noted above the primary author of the infamous Bush administration torture memos, be made an appellate court judge.
The torture memo is one of the greatest black holes in the withheld emails. Did Kavanaugh know of the torture program? Did he offer a legal opinion about it? Did Kavanaugh agree with Yoo that “severe pain and suffering” only means pain “associated with serious physical injury so severe that death, organ failure, or permanent damage” would result?
The overwhelming majority of the legal academic community regards the torture memo as not only false, not only one of the lowest points in American human rights history, but tantamount to encouraging war crimes. Kavanaugh thought it should be rewarded with life tenure on the federal bench. And once again, none of this would be known had the “committee confidential” emails not been released.
Once again, this is explosive material: a nominee for the Supreme Court has endorsed racial profiling, has questioned whether Hawaiians count as Native Americans, accused backers of affirmative action as acting in bad faith, and backed a memo authorizing torture.
Of course, none of this may matter. Republican senators have held their noses and put up with Trump for 20 months just to get to this moment—they’re not going to blow it now just because of a little perjury, racism, using stolen documents, and suborning of torture.