Kavanaugh finally speaks to conclude first day of confirmation hearing process
The first day of Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee wrapped Tuesday, as Republicans aim to swiftly confirm President Trump's second Supreme Court nominee and Democrats demand more answers and more time.
On Tuesday, senators made speeches about their beliefs on Kavanaugh -- and the state of American democracy -- with only introductory remarks from Kavanaugh. The nominee said the Supreme Court "must never be viewed as a partisan institution."
Questioning will begin Wednesday morning. The hearing process is expected to be grueling, as Democrats insist on obtaining and reviewing more records from Kavanaugh's tenure in the George W. Bush administration, and question whether he believes a sitting president can be indicted. After receiving a batch dump of over 40,000 documents the night before, Senate Democrats held up the first day of Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing before the Committee. Democrats including Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Richard Blumenthal repeatedly called for motions to adjourn the hearing, citing insufficient access to documents to better review Kavanaugh's fitness for the Supreme Court bench.
Live updates from earlier:
Committee recesses for the day
Grassley wrapped up the hearing for the day shortly before 5 p.m. On Wednesday, senators will have 30 minutes to question Kavanaugh, followed by 20-minute rounds of questioning.
The hearing will resume at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Kavanaugh is sworn in, finally speaks
Well after 4:30 p.m., Kavanaugh finally had a chance to offer his remarks.
Here are some of his remarks, as prepared:
"I thank President Trump for the honor of this nomination. As a judge and as a citizen, I was deeply impressed by the President's careful attention to the nomination process and by his thorough consideration of potential nominees. I am also very grateful for his courtesy. At the White House on the night of the announcement, the President and Mrs. Trump were very gracious to my daughters, my wife, and my parents. My family will always cherish that night -- or as my daughter Liza calls it, her debut on national television.
As a nominee to the Supreme Court, I understand the responsibility I bear. Some 30 years ago, Judge Anthony Kennedy sat in this seat. He became one of the most consequential Justices in American history. I served as his law clerk in 1993. To me, Justice Kennedy is a mentor, a friend, and a hero. As a Member of the Court, he was a model of civility and collegiality. He fiercely defended the independence of the Judiciary. And he was a champion of liberty. If you had to sum up Justice Kennedy's entire career in one word ... 'liberty.' Justice Kennedy established a legacy of liberty for ourselves and our posterity."
Self-described "liberal Democrat" Lisa Blatt offers support for Kavanaugh
Lisa Blatt, an appellate attorney who introduced herself as a "liberal Democrat" and voted for Hillary Clinton, gave the final introduction for Kavanaugh.
After offering her liberal credentials, including her belief in a woman's right to choose who would prefer to see Democrats running the Senate Judiciary Committee, Blatt said Kavanaugh's credentials are unquestionable.
"By any objective measure, Judge Kavanaugh is clearly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court," she said.
"If it were up to me, Justice Ginsberg would have all nine votes. But that's not our system," she said, adding that Kavanaugh is the best Democrats can hope for in this season.
Rob Portman praises Kavanaugh in introduction
Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, gave the next introduction for Kavanaugh, praising Kavanaugh as a family man who serves others.
"I know these are partisan times here in Washington, but this is an extraordinary nominee in every respect," Portman said.
Condoleezza Rice introduces Kavanaugh
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was the first to offer an introduction for Kavanaugh, praising the judge's record and speaking to the importance of a strong system of justice in American democracy.
"His intellect is unquestioned. His judgement is highly regarded. And I can personally attest to his character and integrity as a colleague," she said.
Session breaks for recess
The hearing departed for a short recess just after 4 p.m. after which Kavanaugh will be introduced and later give his own opening remarks.
Graham says he got "a lot of crap" for voting for Sotomayer, Kagan
Sen. Lindsey Graham, the final seantor to speak before the hearing, said he got "a lot of crap" for voting for Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor during their confirmation proceedings. He said he did so because he thought they were "qualified by any reasonable measure."
"They were different than what I would have picked by by any reasonable measure they were qualified," he said. Graham meanwhile encouraged Kavanaugh, saying "this is exactly where you need to be."
As for President Trump's pick in Kavanaugh, Graham said in a message to Mr. Trump "you do some things that drive me crazy" but lauded the president for his pick in the next Supreme Court justice.
Kamala Harris: "The American people deserve better than this"
Sen. Harris urged the commitee to not move forward with the Kavanaugh hearing, saying that the judge is "coming into his job interview" with 90 precent of his record missing.
Harris said she believes that anyone privileged to be nominated to Supreme Court would want to be confirmed in a process that is "not under a cloud" or "shrouded in uncertainty and suspicion and doubt."
In a message to Kavanaugh, Harris said she was concerned "whether you would treat every American equally or instead show allegiance to the political party and conservative agenda."
"I am concerned your loyalty would be to the president who appointed you and not to the U.S. Constitution," she added.
Booker says he respects Grassley, but "fundamentally" disagrees with process
Sen. Cory Booker said that earlier in the day he had not been questioning Grassley's integrity, even though he disagrees with the process.
Grassley took a moment to emphasize that he believes the committee is a truly bipartisan one.
But Booker insisted that the process for reviewing Kavanaugh has been less-than-transparent.
"I would not hire an intern in my office not knowing 90 percent of their resume," Booker said, harping on how the committee had just received another document dump the night before.
Booker said he's heard "sincere concern and fear from Americans" about where the Supreme Court is going and "what it will do when it has power to shape law...and lives for decades to come."
"I cannot support your nomination...We should not vote now."
Father of Parkland victim says Kavanaugh ignored him
The father of a victim of the Parkland school shooting in Florida this past February said that he approached Judge Kavanaugh during the break between morning and afternoon sessions on Tuesday, but when he put out his hand, Kavanaugh walked away.
"Just walked up to Judge Kavanaugh as morning session ended. Put out my hand to introduce myself as Jaime Guttenberg's dad. He pulled his hand back, turned his back to me and walked away. I guess he did not want to deal with the reality of gun violence," said Guttenberg.
A photo of the incident shows a confused Kavanaugh buttoning his jacket while Guttenberg approaches him with an outstretched hand.
White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah, however, defended the incident by saying security had intervened when an "unidentified individual" approached Kavanaugh before he was able to shake his hand.
Parkland student and gun reform activist David Hogg tweeted that the photo of the incident was "worth thousands of lives" and implored followers to call their senators to stop the Kavanaugh confirmation.
"The NRA has spent millions of dollars to appoint Kavanaugh it's going to take 1000s of phone calls to stop this man," Hogg added.
Blumenthal says "rule of law" at stake
"I will never cast a more important vote," said Sen. Blumenthal in his opening remarks. The democrat said the confirmation process is so consequential because the next Supreme Court Justice "could potentially cast a decisive vote in his own case", citing the ongoing Russia probe in the 2016 election.
He said the vote on Kavanaugh to the high cout could decide "whether we have a real system of checks and balances or, alternatively, an imperial presidency."
Blumenthal once again renewed his motion to adjourn the hearing in order for proper review of Kavanaugh's documents. He warned his Republican colleagues that the documents will come out eventually and that they "belong to the American people."
"It's only a matter of time, my Republicans colleagues, before you will have to answer for what's in these documents."
In a message to Kavanaugh directly, Blumenthal said the confirmation process has been a "grave disservice to you."
"If you are confirmed after this truncated and concealed process, there will always be a taint, there will be an asterisk after your name," suggesting there will be much debate over why documents pertaining to his record were concealed.
Flake cites Trump tweets in concern over Kavanaugh
Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, citing Mr. Trump's tweet on Monday lambasting his own Justice Department, that he shares Democrats' worries that the president's pick in Kavanaugh is coming from an "administration that doesn't seem to understand and appreciate separation of powers and the rule of law."
Democrats have been highlighting his tweet, in which he blamed Sessions for publicizing charges against Republican members of Congress as casting "two easy wins" in doubt, as rationale that Kavanaugh is not the right pick for the job.
Sasse slams Kavanaugh opponents' "drivel" as "patently absurd"
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, said that "deranged" comments about Kavanaugh's record have nothing to do with him and that senate confirmation hearings have not worked for over 30 years in America.
Sasse said the "hysteria" around Supreme Court confirmation hearings "comes from a fundamental misunderstanding" of the role the high court has in American life. He said the public has grown to expect an overblown "circus" of a hearing.
The Republican slammed Democrats' "90 minutes of theatrics" as showing "us a system widely out of whack."
Klobuchar: "Our Democracy is on trial"
"Our democracy is on trial," Sen. Klobuchar warned. "To weather this storm the nation's highest court must serve as a ballast in this turbulent times," she added, suggesting that the next Supreme Court pick must be "fair, impartial and unwavering."
Klobuchar said President Trump's repeated attacks on his own Justice Department "have made me pause and think many times about why I decided to come to the Senate ... and go into law in the first place."
Kavanaugh confirmation returns to session
Grassley thanked Kavanaugh for returning from recess in a timely manner. The chairman gaveled-in shortly after 1:17 p.m. to restart the hearing.
Kavanaugh hearing breaks for short recess
Upon conclusion of Sen. Cruz's remarks, Chairman Grassley called for a break in the confirmation hearing, warning Kavanaugh to "be on time please."
Ted Cruz on Democrats complaints: "What's all the fuss"
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said that the over half million documents that have been turned over to the senate account for "more than the last five nominees submitted to this committee combined."
Cruz said Democrats are making a demand "they know is impossible to meet and irrelevant to what Kavanaugh thinks, believes or has said."
The senator instead suggested his democratic colleagues' effort to "distract and delay" on Tuesday is an effort to "re-litigate the 2016 presidential election."
Durbin calls Democratic opposition the "noise of democracy"
"What we've heard is the noise of democracy," Durbin said of Democrats' and protesters pleas to adjourn the hearing.
"It is not mob rule," he argued, saying that while at times the hearing so far has been "uncomfortable" for Kavanaugh and his family present, it "represents what we are about in this democracy."
Durbin also noted that being the nominee of President Trump shows he's the "personal choice" of someone who has "shown us consistently he's contemptuous of rule of law."
Leahy to Kavanaugh: "You shouldn't be sitting in front of us"
"Mr. Kavanaugh, you shouldn't be sitting in front of us today," said Sen. Leahy citing incomplete reviews of the judge's record. "Your vetting is 10 percent complete."
"Judge Kavanaugh, there's so many things wrong with this committee's vetting of your record it's hard to know where to begin ... I never thought the committee would sink to this," he added.
Leahy called the hearing "the most incomplete, most partisan, least transparency for any Supreme Court nominee I have ever seen and I have seen more of those than any person serving in the senate today."
Orrin Hatch defends Kavanaugh as "most distinguished"
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who impressively pointed out to the committee that he has participated in the confirmation process for every justice currently on the Supreme Court, said that Democrats are trying to "paint you as one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse."
He called Kavanaugh one of the "most distinguished judges" on the court today, with a "sterling character" of integrity and sound judgement, saying he was "unquestionably qualified" for his role on the Supreme Court.
After lengthy delay, Grassley begins opening statements
Following over an hour-long delay prompted by Democrats looking to move the confirmation, Sen. Grassley finally began his opening statement for Kavanaugh's hearing.
Grassley said that expects "Judge Kavanaugh will follow the example set by [Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsburg, and all the nominees that followed her, that a nominee should offer 'no hints, no forecasts, no previews' on how they will vote" on the Supreme Court bench.
The chairman called Kavanaugh "one of the most qualified nominees - if not the most qualified nominee -I have seen."
In a jab at Democrats, Grassley said that Americans have had "unprecedented access and more materials to review for Judge Kavanaugh than they ever had for a Supreme Court nominee. And to support the review of Judge Kavanaugh's historic volume of material, I've worked to ensure that more Senators have more access to more material than ever."
Cornyn: Hearing running by "mob rule"
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, argued that "this is the first confirmation hearing subject to mob rule" as Democrats continue to shift the focus off of Kavanaugh and onto outstanding document requests.
"I've been accused of having a mob rule session... if we have a mob rule session it's because the chairman is not running the committee properly," said Grassley. "This is the same Chuck Grassley that ran the [Neil] Gorsuch hearings," he pointed out, citing Democrats' claims how well-run that previous hearing was.
In contrast, Sen. Leahy told his colleagues that he's "sorry to see the Senate Judiciary Committee descend this way."
"I felt privileged to serve here under Republican and Democratic leadership for over 40 years. This is not the Senate Judiciary Committee I saw when I came to the U.S. Senate," he added.
Grassley informed the body that due to delays, Kavanaugh will likely be heard from later than 2:30 p.m.
Grassley calls Democrats' motion to adjourn "out of order"
Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the confirmation process will be "tainted and stained forever" if they are not allowed to move to postpone the hearing in an executive session of the senate. Grassley responded several times: "The motion is out of order."
CBS News' Nancy Cordes reports that a source familiar with the discussions confirms that Sen. Schumer held a conference call with Judiciary Committee democrats over the Labor Day weekend to discuss the strategy they are now deploying in a coordinated manner, interrupting the start of the hearing to call - one after the other - for a delay in the proceedings until senators get all the Kavanaugh documents they want and have time to read them.
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, cited this reporting in the hearing in an attempt to undermine Democrats' arguments.
Feinstein cites Trump's "serious problems" at start of hearing
Ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein said that besides the argument over documents, Kavanaugh comes to the Senate with a backdrop of political turmoil and frustration in the country and the White House. Feinstein said the Senate is looking at whether Kavanaugh is "within the mainstream of American legal opinion and will he do the right thing by the constitution."
Feinstein said the Senate has instead cast aside tradition for speed with regards of the vetting process of the nominee.
"Give us the time to do our work so we can have a positive and comprehensive hearing on the man who may well be the deciding vote for many of America's futures," said Feinstein.
At start of hearing, Democrats call for confirmation to be moved
Democrats including Sens. Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Richard Blumenthal interrupted Chairman Chuck Grassley's opening statements, calling for the hearing to be moved due to Democrats' argument that they have not been given adequate time or access to documents to review Kavanaugh's fitness for the bench.
"We have not been given the opportunity to have a meaningful hearing on the nominee," said Harris. Blumenthal argued that the lack of access to documents "turns this hearing into a charade and mockery of our norms."
Democrat Cory Booker meanwhile called for debate on the issue, asking Grassley "what is the rush" on Kavanaugh's confirmation. "What are we hiding by not letting those documents come out" to the public Booker inquired. Sen. Durbin echoed, urging the Senate to take a "few days or weeks" to have a complete review of Judge Kavanaugh's record, adding that not doing so is "unfair to the American people."
As of late Monday, the Senate had been given an additional 42,000 pages of documents aboutKavanaugh, according to Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York.
The White House said Friday that it would not be releasing 100,000 Kavanaugh's records from the Bush White House on the basis of presidential privilege.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said it was the first time in his 44 years in Congress that there has been such a claim of executive privilege, saying it "just puts everything under doubt. What are we trying to hide, we are we rushing?"
As Democrats made their case, protesters seated inside the chamber began shouting to stop the hearing making for a chaotic first few moments of Kavanaugh's appearance before the Senate.
Kavanaugh arrives for hearing
Shortly after 9:30 a.m., Kavanaugh entered the chamber to begin his first day of confirmation hearings.
DOJ's Rod Rosenstein at Kavanaugh hearing
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is seated near the front of the Kavanaugh hearing Tuesday. According to the DOJ, Kavanaugh and Rosenstein are friends going years back.
Tuesday hearing's schedule of events
Kavanaugh's hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee begins with a round of opening statements from Committee members and from Kavanaugh himself who will be introduced by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Arnold & Porter partner Lisa Blatt.
Members will be allowed roughly 10 minutes of time to speak on Kavanaugh's fitness for confirmation. Questioning of Kavanaugh will begin Wednesday.
Kavanaugh: "I'm a pro-law judge"
In excerpts of Kavanaugh's prepared remarks released by the White House ahead of Tuesday's first hearing, the judge is expected to make the case that he will remain a "neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no litigant or policy."
"A good judge must be an umpire," Kavanaugh said in prepared remarks. "I don't decide cases based on personal or policy preferences. I am not a pro-plaintiff or pro-defendant judge. I am not a pro-prosecution or pro-defense judge. I am a pro-law judge."
"If confirmed to the Court, I would be part of a Team of Nine, committed to deciding cases according to the Constitution and laws of the United States. I would always strive to be a team player on the Team of Nine," Kavanaugh adds in excerpts released.
Kavanaugh also makes note of former President Barack Obama's one-time pick to the court, Judge Merrick Garland. "I have served with 17 other judges, each of them a colleague and a friend, on a court now led by our superb chief judge, Merrick Garland." Garland's own nomination to the high court was effectively blocked by Senate Republicans in Obama's final year in office.
What to watch for
The confirmation hearing process is expected to last much longer than one day. Here are some things to watch for during the back-and-forth of questioning.
Senators to watch
Senators to watch for: Keep an eye on questions and reactions from senators who are vulnerable this fall. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, and Sen. Clare McCaskill, D-Missouri, have yet to say whether they will support Kavanaugh.
Democrats are sure to ask hammer Kavanaugh with questions about whether he believes a sitting president can be indicted, particularly after former longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen alleged that Mr. Trump directed him to take actions that violated campaign finance law.
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."
Kavanaugh's views on abortion are documented but still unclear. 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."