Updated at 2:39 p.m.
U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday denied having any recollection of conversations of any kind with members of a New York law firm that has represented President Donald Trump.
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris late Wednesday pressed Kavanaugh about whether he had ever spoken with anyone at the New York-based law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres regarding Robert Mueller III, the special counsel leading the investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Kavanaugh seemed taken aback by the question. “I’m not remembering anything ,” he said. “Be sure about your answer,” Harris said at one point. “Are you certain that you’ve not had a conversation with anyone at that law firm?”
Kavanaugh said he would be happy to have his memory refreshed by Harris. She replied, “You have an impeccable memory” and added: “How can you not remember whether or not you had a conversation about Robert Mueller or his investigation with anyone at that law firm?
Kavanaugh said, “I’m just trying to think do I know anyone who works at that firm I might know?” Harris: “That’s not my question. My question is have you had a conversation with anyone at that firm about that investigation. It’s a really specific question.”
Harris responded, “I think you’re thinking of someone and you don’t want to tell us.” She did not reveal any names.
During Thursday’s hearing session, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah gave Kavanaugh the opportunity to address Harris’s questions.
“I don’t recall any conversations of that kind with anyone at that law firm,” Kavanaugh told Hatch. “I didn’t know everyone who might work at that law firm. I don’t recall any conversations of that kind. I haven’t had any inappropriate conversations about that investigation with anyone. I’ve never given anyone any hints, forecasts, previews, winks—nothing about my view as a judge or how I would rule as a judge, on that or anything related to that.”
Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah last night interjected during the questioning, trying to save Kavanaugh from Harris, a former California attorney general.
“This town is full of law firms. Law firms are full of people—law firms have a lot of names,” Lee said. “There is no possible way we can expect this witness to know who populates an entire firm.”
A Washington Post reporter said on Wednesday that Democrats “have reason to believe that a conversation happened and are continuing to pursue it.”
Responding to a request for comment, a spokesperson for Kasowitz Benson said Thursday: “There have been no discussions regarding Robert Mueller’s investigation between Judge Kavanaugh and anyone at our firm.”
A search of Kasowitz Benson’s website did not turn up any Kasowitz lawyer who clerked for Kavanaugh and only one lawyer who clerked for a federal appeals court judge. The firm has an office in Washington, but only a handful of the firm’s lawyers appear to work there. Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut, is a senior counsel of the firm. Overall the firm has more than 250 lawyers employed nationwide.
Like Kavanaugh, some Kasowitz attorneys are alums of Yale Law School, including Lieberman.
Marc Kasowitz last year was on the private legal team representing Donald Trump in the Russia investigation. John Dowd replaced Kasowitz on that team in July 2017, but Dowd has since dropped off. Jay Sekulow is the only remaining member of that team, which now includes former Williams & Connolly partner Emmet Flood.
Kasowitz Benson has at least one pending case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, where Kavanaugh has served since 2006. The dispute centers on a suit the firm filed against a group of chemical companies under the federal False Claims Act. A records search shows Marc Kasowitz has not appeared as counsel in the D.C. Circuit.
Kasowitz was not immediately reached for comment Thursday.
Here’s the full clip of Harris questioning Kavanaugh about any conversations with a lawyer at the Kasowitz firm:
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 6, 2018
Christine Simmons contributed reporting from New York, and Ellis Kim from Washington.