Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley had his patience tested in the opening moments of the Brett Kavanaugh hearing Tuesday.
Grassley was just seconds into his welcome statement before Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) interrupted him repeatedly. Grassley called for regular order but continued to be interrupted by multiple Democrats on the committee. Multiple protesters, who began to scream and yell, were removed by the Capitol police in the room. Democrats accused the administration of hiding Kavanaugh documents from the committee.
The chairman finally snapped on the continued accusation, saying, “My colleagues on the other side are accusing the administration of using executive privilege to hide documents from the committee. I want to say why they’re wrong.”
Grassley then noted the difference in the administrations, harkening back to scandals and appointees under the Obama administration: “Unlike President Obama’s assertion of executive privilege during ‘Fast And Furious,’ as one example, this assertion is not legitimate.”
His comments referenced the gun-running scandal that left dangerous weapons in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Grassley explained that Kavanaugh was a senior lawyer in the White House and his conversations with the president are granted confidentiality to effectively discharge his duties.
“We in the Senate, and everyone else in America, expect exactly the same sort of confidentiality,” Grassley continued. “Most senators would not agree to turn over their staff’s communication to anyone.”
The chairman then made a distinction between the request for documents from Kavanaugh verses request for documents from liberal appointed judges:
“For example, we didn’t ask that Judge Kagan’s records for her service with then Senator Biden be turned over during her nomination. And because of attorney/client privilege, everybody has a right to keep communications from their lawyers out of government hands. We therefore didn’t ask for Justice Ginsberg’s documents from her time with the ACLU. We didn’t ask for judge Sotomayor’s confidential documents from her time in private practice. It can’t be that the Senate and the ACLU are entitled to more protection than the President of the United States.”