The confirmation hearings for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh got off to a chaotic start on Capitol Hill Tuesday, with Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee demanding Republican Chairman Chuck Grassley adjourn the hearing as more than a dozen protesters in the gallery called for it to end.
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Grassley’s opening statement was immediately interrupted by Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. Harris took issue with the timing of the release of thousands of documents related to Kavanaugh’s work in former President George W. Bush’s White House. The document dump on Monday night was orchestrated by a lawyer for Bush.
“Mr. Chairman, I’d like to be recognized for a question before we proceed,” Harris said. “Mr. Chairman, the committee received just last night, less than 15 hours ago, 42,000 pages of documents that we have not had an opportunity to review or read or analyze. We cannot possibly move forward.”
Grassley said that Harris was out of order and tried to welcome Kavanaugh, only to be interrupted again by Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
“I agree with my colleague, Mr. Chairman,” Klobuchar said. “We believe this hearing should be postponed.”
Grassley ignored Klobuchar, setting off Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who demanded that Democratic concerns be addressed.
“Mr. Chairman, if we cannot be recognized, I move to adjourn,” Blumenthal said to applause from the back of the room where several women stood up in protest of Kavanaugh’s views on abortion.
“We stand for reproductive rights,” one woman said as she was removed by Capitol Police.
Blumenthal wasn’t through.
“We have been denied access to the documents we need, which turns this hearing into a charade and a mockery of our norms,” he said. “Mr. Chairman, I therefore move to adjourn this hearing.”
“Okay,” Grassley said, as another female protester yelled out from the gallery: “This is a mockery and a tragedy of justice!”
According to Capitol Police, 17 protesters were arrested in the first hour of the hearing.
Kavanaugh, looking somewhat uncomfortable, sat facing the panel with his wife and two daughters seated behind him.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., appealed to what he called Grassley’s “decency and integrity”
while calling for “transparency” from the committee. According to figures released by Democrats ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, more than 90 percent of Kavanaugh’s records from his time as White House counsel and staff secretary have not been provided to the Senate.
“What is the rush?” Booker asked. “What are we hiding by not letting those documents come out? We are rushing through this process.”
“You spoke of my decency and integrity,” Grassley fired back at Booker. “I think you are taking advantage of my decency and integrity.”
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