On the second day of his confirmation hearings, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh declined to reveal much about where he stands on major issues, but told lawmakers that he would respect judicial precedent should he serve on the high court.
Perhaps what has been more enlightening from the hearing thus far is what Kavanaugh hasn't answered or refused to provide clear indications on.
On Roe v. Wade, Kavanaugh repeated to lawmakers time and time again that he understands the "importance of precedence" in the decision of the landmark case for women's reproductive rights.
He reaffirmed his view is that the case is "settled precedent of the Supreme Court" and it has "been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years." He neglected, however to explicitly say where he stands on the issue.
On Executive power, Kavanaugh affirmed to lawmakers that "no one is above the law" but declined to answer questions on hypothetical cases of whether nor not the president could pardon himself.
On presidential loyalty: Pressed on whether he owes loyalty to President Trump, Kavanaugh said, holding up a worn, personal copy of the legal document, "if confirmed to the Supreme Court and as a sitting judge, I owe my loyalty to the Constitution."
Follow along for live updates of the hearing:
Kavanaugh hearing adjourned
Sen. Thom Tillis adjourned the Kavanaugh hearing after 10 p.m., after over 12 hours. The hearing will start back up Thursday at 9:30 a.m.
Kavanaugh asked about Mueller investigation, Russia meddling
Sen. Kamala Harris asked if Kavanaugh discussed special counsel Robert Mueller with anyone.
"The fact that it's on going, it's in the news every day ... it's in the courthouse in the District of Columbia ... the answer is yes," Kavanaugh said.
Harris pressed further, asking if he discussed with "anyone in the law firm of Kasowitz, Benson and Torres, the law firm founded by President Trump's personal lawyer? Be sure about your answer, sir."
Kavanaugh said he was "not remembering" and then when pressed further, he said "I would like to know who you are referring to."
"I think you're thinking of someone and you don't want to tell us," Harris responded.
Booker questions Kavanaugh about racial profiling
Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, asked Kavanaugh about affirmative action and voting rights. Booker asked repeatedly if Kavanaugh believes race-conscious policies are constitutionally valid to remedy past discrimination. Kavanaugh answered "the Supreme Court says it is," with Booker saying "I know what the Supreme Court has said, I want to know what you think."
Kavanaugh wouldn't say if he agrees with Supreme Court precedent on this issue.
Booker asked about voting rights, and said "your answers don't provide me comfort."
Booker also said there was an email entitled "Racial Profiling" that was designated "Committee Confidential." "The fact that we have not allowing these emails out as we have asked, as I have asked, joined a letter with my colleagues asking, and that's why I am saying the system is rigged," Booker said.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said he agreed and he doesn't know why they marked confidential.
Committee takes half hour recess
The Judiciary Committee took a half hour recess beginning at 7:40 p.m. New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker questions Kavanaugh when session resumes.
Hirono questions Kavanaugh about sexual harassment
Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii began her testimony by asking Kavanaugh if he had ever conducted sexual harassment or assault, or faced discipline or paid a settlement related to those issues, which she said was a way to make sure the #MeToo movement would apply to judges appointed to lifetime positions. Hirono has been asking all of Mr. Trump's judicial nominee these two questions.
Hirono then asked about Kavanaugh's relationship with former Judge Alex Kozinski, a judge for the 9th Circuit who had been accused of sexual misconduct by several women, asking if he had seen any evidence of Kozinski's pattern of sexual misconduct over thirty years. Kavanaugh denied that he knew anything about Kozinski's inappropriate behavior towards women.
"You saw nothing, you heard nothing, and you obviously said nothing," Hirono said. She then asked if Kavanaugh believed the women who had accused Kozinski.
"I have no reason not to believe them, senator," Kavanaugh responded. He said that if he had known about Kozinski's behavior, he would have contacted his superiors on the court, including Chief Judge Merrick Garland, and even Chief Justice John Roberts.
Hirono noted that Kavanaugh has considered himself an advocate for women, but seemed skeptical that he had no knowledge of Kozinski's behavior.
Committee is back in session
Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal questioned Kavanaugh after the recess. He asked Kavanaugh about his views on Roe v. Wade, which the nominee deflected using previous arguments that he could not commit to hypotheticals of whether he would vote to overturn that decision.
Committee breaks for recess
At 5:23 p.m., the Senate Judiciary Committee began a ten minute recess, to be followed by questions from Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Kavanaugh sidesteps questions on presidential authority
Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons asked Kavanaugh whether he would vote to overturn Morrison v. Olson, a 1988 Supreme Court decision which would upheld the constitutionality of creating an independent counsel under the 1978 Ethics in Government Act. The law expired in 1999, and now special counsels are governed by Justice Department regulations.
Kavanaugh told a conservative group in 2016 that he wanted to "put the final nail in the coffin" of Morrison v. Olson. Coons asked whether Kavanaugh would vote to overturn Morrison v. Olson, and whether he believed a special counsel is "fireable at will" of the president.
Kavanaugh declined to answer, saying that he could not weigh in about a hypothetical future case.
However, Kavanaugh told Republican Sen. Ben Sasse that no president had "immunity" from being charged for a civil or criminal crime. He said that the important question was when charges against the president should be brought -- while he or she is in office, or after he or she leaves office.
Kavanaugh repeatedly interrupted by protesters
Throughout the day, Kavanaugh was repeatedly interrupted by protesters, who yelled criticism of the judge before being escorted from the room. The protesters shouted slogans such as "we will not go back," referring to the fear among some on the left that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade if Kavanaugh is confirmed.
Democrats try to shut down hearing by invoking a procedural rule
While Kavanaugh continued questioning, a bit of drama played out on the Senate floor as Democrats invoked a rarely enforced Senate rule against holding committee meetings past the first two hours of the Senate's day in the hopes of derailing the Kavanaugh hearing.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for the Judiciary committee to be allowed to meet during today's session to which Schumer, denied, saying the public and Senate Democrats have not received the documents they need and Republicans are trying to "jam through" the nomination of Kavanaugh.
Usually both sides agree by unanimous consent to allow committees to meet while the Senate is in session.
Leader McConnell adjourned the Senate floor for the day, which will allow the Judiciary Committee to continue to meet for the remainder of the day.
Kavanaugh on immigration abortion case: "I'm a judge" not policy maker
Pressed on his role in the case of a pregnant 17-year old girl seeking an abortion while being held in a Texas facility for immigrant children, Kavanaugh argued, "I'm a judge, I'm not making the policy decision." The teen ultimately had the abortion as the government prepared to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh, in his dissent in the case, accepted that Roe v. Wade precedent applied to the teenager in the case. He did, however, side with the Trump administration who said as a minor, the girl should have consulted with an adult first before the procedure.
"I'm deciding if policy is consistent with Supreme Court precedent," he added. He said in his ruling he did the "best I could."
Slamming process, Durbin says it's on Kavanaugh to be transparent
Durbin, harping back to Democrats' strategy on Tuesday, slammed the confirmation process and the lack of access to documents on Kavanaugh's record. Durbin asked Kavanaugh if he was part of the decision making process in not releasing the entirety of documents to which Kavanaugh said that was not a decision for the nominee to make.
Durbin further pressed Kavanaugh, saying he could have asked for the public release of documents in the spirit of transparency.
"It's up to you...to say I don't want a cloud or shadow" over the hearing.
Hearing comes back to order
Kavanaugh returned just after 12:45 p.m. with questioning kicking off with Sen. Dick Durbin.
Senate breaks for short recess
Promptly at 12:15 p.m., the Committee took it's first break of the day for lunch break and votes. The hearing will adjourn for 30 minutes.
In lighter moment, Kavanaugh reflects on how he'd like to be remembered
In a rare moment of levity for the confirmation process, Sen. Graham asked Kavanaugh how he'd like to be remembered after all is said and done.
Kavanaugh: "A good dad. A good judge." Sen. Feinstein then interrupted: "Good husband." The chamber broke into laughs as Kavanaugh repeated after the ranking member.
Kavanaugh won't answer questions on pardons
Asked if the president has the authority to pardon himself, Kavanaugh said that the issue of self pardons is "something I've never analyzed...or written about." calling it a "hypothetical question that I can't begin to answer in this context as a sitting judge and nominee."
Leahy, Grassley and Kavanaugh get in spat over emails
Over the course of Sen. Pat Leahy's questioning, the Democrat pressed Kavanaugh over confidential emails that suggested Kavanaugh might have been more involved in a scandal stemming from a hacking of Senate Democrats' emails than he originally lead on, including from Leahy's office, during his time in the Bush White House.
Allegations at the time claim that Republican operatives hacked into the computers of Democratic senators to steal information about what Democrats were planning to ask President Bush's judicial nominees. After having Kavanaugh read through emails during the hearing, the judge was adamant that he was not aware the information he received had been stolen.
Leahy suggested Kavanaugh had misled the Senate during separate hearings back in 2004 and 2006 on the matter, saying that "Truthfulness under oath is not an optional qualification for a Supreme Court nominee."
Kavanaugh later told Sen. Lindsey Graham that he never knowingly stole emails or documents from Sen. Leahy's office.
Kavanaugh pressed on environmental rulings
"I am not a skeptic of regulation," Kavanaugh said. "I am a skeptic of unauthorized regulation."
The judge, who has raised concerns amongst activists over how he might sway the court's favor in future rulings on environmental-based cases, defended his background as saying in some cases he's ruled against environmental interests, and many other for environmental interests. Kavanaugh cited rulings involving the American Trucking Association and stricter air quality standards as cases where he sided with environmental interests.
Kavanaugh on empowering women in courts
Kavanaugh said that there's a pipeline problem for women gaining access to jobs within the judicial system.
"What it takes is just not accepting the same-old answer," he said. "I try to figure out why, and then do something about it."
When pressed on prominent appeals court Judge Alex Kozinski, who resigned after more than a dozen women alleged he subjected them to inappropriate sexual conduct and harassment, Kavanaugh called the reports a "gut punch."
"It was a gut punch to me. It was a gut punch to the judiciary. I was shocked and disappointed. Angry. No woman should be subject to sexual harassment in the workplace."
Kavanaugh denied that he was ever aware of the allegations against Kozinksi, saying he only learned about them through initial news reports.
Kavanaugh says loyalty is to Constitution, not president
Asked what assurances he could give that he would not allow the president's personal views or interests to sway his views on the court, Kavanaugh said that he is an "independent judge" and if confirmed, he will base his decisions on the Constitution and precedent "without fear or favor, independently without pressure from any quarter."
"The person with the best arguments on the law is the person that will win with me," he added.
Pressed on if what loyalty he owes to the president, Kavanaugh said, holding up a worn, personal copy of the legal document, "if confirmed to the Supreme Court and as a sitting judge, I owe my loyalty to the Constitution."
Kavanaugh won't answer if sitting president can be subpoenaed
Feinstein: "Can a sitting president have to respond to a subpoena?"
Kavanaugh: "As a sitting judge and a nominee ... I can't give you an answer to a hypothetical."
Kavanaugh provides no clear answers on Roe v. Wade
Without explicitly saying where he stands on the issue, Kavanaugh, in his questioning with Feinstein, said that he understands the "importance of precedence" in the decision of Roe v. Wade.
He reaffirmed his view is that the case is "settled precedent of the Supreme Court" and it has "been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years."
Kavanaugh said that while he understands the importance of the issue, he doesn't "live in a bubble" on the debate over women's reproductive rights.
On a woman's right to choose, Kavanaugh again said his view "as a judge, it is important precedent of the Supreme Court."
Feinstein, Kavanaugh spar over assault weapons
Asked by Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein what led to his view that an assault weapons ban such as the one in Washington, DC is considered "unconstitutional", Kavanaugh said he was simply following precedent from the Supreme Court "whether he agreed with it or not."
"The way I understood was that dangerous and unusual weapons could be prohibited," explained Kavanaugh. He argued that assault weapons are widely used and possessed in the U.S.
"The question is are they a danger and unusual," he added.
Kavanaugh: "No one is above the law"
No one is above the law in our constitutional system," said Kavanaugh when asked about his position on judicial independence and the separation of powers among the three branches of government.
"The executive branch is subject to the law, that's an important part of the constitutional structure," he added. Kavanaugh said resisting public pressures, political pressure and treating everyone equally no matter their race, gender, station in life or position in the federal government is vital to ensuring equal justice under the law.
"I'm a pro-law judge...If you walk into my courtroom and you have the better legal arguments, you will win"
Kavanaugh said there have been a "slew of cases" where he has ruled against the administration that appointed him. Asked if he had been asked to give assurances about the way he would rule in certain cases, Kavanaugh replied: "No."
Kavanaugh says "independence" makes a good judge
In his very first question of the hearing, Kavanaugh said that the quality of a good judge is independence from political pressures or other entities. He said that not being swayed by outside politics takes "back bone." He added that judges are "constitutionally dictated to heed the rules of precedent ."
As for human qualities, Kavanaugh said he would be congenial with his fellow justices on the high court. He said that "unanimity of decisions" adds force to the court's rulings.
Kavanaugh agreed with Grassley when pressed on not giving forecasts or previews on how he might rule on a given case or specific precedent he might favor.
"One of the things that I have to remember sitting in this seat that this moment is a moment of judicial independence with how I interact with this committee," he said. Kavanaugh said following "nominee precedent" of prior justices not tipping their hat on how they would serve on the court is "critical" to an impartial confirmation process.
"I must adhere to my job which is not to advance my own interests, I'm a representative of the judiciary as a whole and I have a responsibility to judicial independence right here right now as a nominee."
Day two begins with questions
Just after 9:30 a.m. Grassley began the proceedings into questioning Kavanaugh.
What to expect for day two
Kavanaugh is likely to face intense grilling from senate lawmakers during the question and answer portion of the confirmation hearing. Here's a look at what to expect on day two:
Democrats pushing for delay
Democrats are likely to deploy a similar coordinated strategy they used on day one of the hearing by interrupting the start of the hearing to call for delays in the proceedings until senators get access to all of Kavanaugh's documents.
Democrats including Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris all devoted over an hour of hearing time appealing to Chairman Chuck Grassley to adjourn the hearing until Democrats could thoroughly go over the records. Grassley, after being called out for conducting the hearing with "mob rule", repeatedly slammed the Democrats as being out of order.
How exactly Kavanaugh views abortion access is still murky at best. He has approved some restrictions on abortion, such as for an underage undocumented immigrant who wanted one. But he also gives much weight to precedent. After meeting with Kavanaugh last month, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Kavanaugh assured her that he views Roe v. Wade as "settled law."
Executive privilege and power
Perhaps the key issue for Kavanaugh will be his loyalty to President Trump and whether or not he believes a sitting president can be indicted in light of the ongoing Russia probe which so far has led to two guilty convictions for former Trump campaign associates.
In 2009, Kavanaugh seemed to suggest that presidents should be immune from criminal prosecutions and investigations until after leaving office, writing, "I believe it vital that the president be able to focus on his never-ending tasks with as few distractions as possible."