The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has released more than 1,000 written questions posed by senators and answered by U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the wake of his confirmation hearing last week.
In the batch of responses released late Wednesday, Kavanaugh stuck to his view that he would not be drawn into political issues and at other points referred the senators to things he said at his confirmation hearing without elaborating.
Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, lashed out at Senate Democrats for trying to “gum up the process” with an avalanche of questions, which he said was larger than any batch of post-hearing queries sent to any nominee in history. Neil Gorsuch, by comparison, responded to 324 questions. Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan each responded to about 215 questions, according to Grassley.
Senators are allowed to keep the record open after hearings and ask written questions of court nominees, who are still under oath during this phase of the confirmation process.
“Judge Kavanaugh sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee for well over 32 hours of statements and questions,” Grassley said in a statement. “Members had the opportunity to ask as many questions they wanted to ask. Submitting this many written questions appears to be just one more effort to gum up the process.”
What follows are some of the questions presented to Kavanaugh — and his responses — lightly edited for length and clarity.
➤➤ Parkland victim’s father. Grassley asked Kavanaugh about an incident — captured in a photo and video that went viral. Kavanaugh, at his confirmation hearing, did not shake the hand of Fred Guttenberg, the father of a Parkland school shooting victim.
Kavanaugh responded to Grassley: “When I turned and did not recognize the man, I assumed he was a protester. In a split second, my security detail intervened and ushered me out of the hearing room. In that split second, I unfortunately did not realize that the man was the father of a shooting victim from Parkland, Florida. Mr. Guttenberg has suffered an incalculable loss. If I had known who he was, I would have shaken his hand, talked to him and expressed my sympathy. And I would have listened to him.”
➤➤ Loyalty to Trump. Sen. Mazie Hirono: “Has the President ever asked you for your loyalty or suggested or implied that you might owe him anything for nominating you to the Supreme Court?”
Kavanaugh: “No. In all of my discussions with law students and my clerks, including those referenced in your question, I couple my discussion of loyalty with an admonition about not letting loyalty lead you off an ethical or legal cliff.”
➤➤ Kavanaugh’s debt. Kavanaugh has taken some criticism for the debt he reported on his financial disclosures, including spending thousands of dollars on seasons tickets for the Nationals baseball team. There was no discussion at his confirmation hearing about those tickets. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse asked Kavanaugh: “Are there any debts, creditors, or related items that you did not disclose on your FBI disclosures?” Kavanaugh expounded on home improvements, social clubs and bank accounts. He said this about his baseball tickets, which were purchased with friends:
“I am a huge sports fan. When the Nationals came to D.C. in 2005, I purchased four season tickets in my name every season from 2005 through 2017. I also purchased playoff packages for the four years that the Nationals made the playoffs (2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017). I have attended all 11 Nationals home playoff games in their history. (We are 3-8 in those games.) I have attended a couple of hundred regular season games. … (When he sold tickets,) no one overpaid or underpaid me for tickets. No loans were given in either direction.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy: “Have you ever gambled or accrued gambling debt in the State of New Jersey?”
Kavanaugh: “I recall occasionally visiting casinos in New Jersey when I was in school or in my 20s. I recall I played low-stakes blackjack. I have not accrued gambling debt.”
➤➤ What management-side law firms think of Kavanaugh. Sen. Dick Durbin: “Shortly after your nomination, the employer-side law firm Fisher Phillips put out a legal alert saying, ‘If confirmed, will Justice Kavanaugh be kind to employers? The answer: you may rely on it.’ Are you proud of your pro-business reputation?”
Kavanaugh: “I disagree with that characterization of my record. I rule for the party who has the best argument on the merits. That includes workers in some cases, businesses in others; coal miners in some cases, environmentalists in others; unions in some cases, employers in others. I am not a pro-business or an anti-business judge. I am a pro-law judge.”
➤➤ The Alex Kozinski clerkship. Kavanaugh was pressed over what he knew, and when he knew it, about sexual misconduct claims that would force the Ninth Circuit judge to resign last year. Sen. Patrick Leahy asked: “Did you ever received sexually suggestive or explicit emails from Judge Kozinski, whether as part of his ‘Easy Rider Gag List’ or otherwise?”
Kavanaugh: “I do not remember receiving inappropriate emails of a sexual nature from Judge Kozinski.”
Sen. Christopher Coons: “At least 15 women have accused Judge Kozinski of sexual harassment. Do you believe that Judge Kozinski treated women inappropriately?”
Kavanaugh: “As I said at the hearing, I have no reason to doubt the claims of these women.”
Coons: “During the entire course of your relationship with Judge Kozinski, did you ever witness him engaging in inappropriate behavior?”
Kavanaugh: “Judge Kozinski was known to be a tough boss, but I did not witness him engaging in inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature.”
Hirono: “Judge Kozinski was quoted as saying he was heartened by having heard from some former clerks after his misconduct was revealed in public. Were you among them? Did you contact him after the revelations were made public? When was the last time you were in contact with him?”
Kavanaugh responded: “I contacted Judge Kozinski shortly after he resigned because I was concerned about his mental health.”
➤➤ Contact with Mueller’s prosecutors. Sen. Kamala Harris: “Have you had any contact with Robert Mueller or any members of his special counsel team — including through an intermediary — since March 1, 2017? If yes, please describe the nature of the contact, including the identity of the person(s) you communicated with and the timing and substance of the communications.”
Kavanaugh: “Not to my knowledge. I may have seen or said hello to members of his team when passing them in the courthouse. I have had no inappropriate discussions.”
Kavanaugh’s responses are posted here in full:
Mike Scarcella contributed reporting from Washington.