News & Politics

Kamala Harris Harasses Kavanaugh on Robert Mueller, Charlottesville, 'White Supremacist' Terms

C-SPAN screenshot.

On Tuesday, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of speaking with President Trump’s lawyer’s law firm about the Robert Mueller investigation. She did so without evidence, and while refusing to provide a list of lawyers at the firm. After this, the senator jumped down Kavanaugh’s throat with a question about the white nationalist riots in Charlottesville last year.

“Judge, have you ever discussed Special Counsel Mueller or his investigation with anyone?” Harris asked. After the nominee responded that he had, the senator asked, “Have you discussed it with anyone at Kasowitz, Benson, and Torres, the law firm founded by Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal lawyer? Be sure about your answer, sir.”

Kavanaugh, perplexed, could not remember if he knew anyone at that law firm. “Is there a person you’re talking about?” The senator responded, “I’m asking you a very direct question, yes or no.”

“I’m not sure, I need to know anyone who works at that law firm,” the nominee explained. As the senator continued to push him, he said, “I’m just trying to think, do I know anyone at that firm.” Kamala Harris cut him off, saying, “That’s not my question.”

“I would like to know the person you’re thinking of,” Kavanaugh said. “I think you’re thinking of someone and you don’t want to tell us,” Harris countered. Can she read his mind?!

“Who did you have a conversation with?” Kamala Harris asked, acting as though the nominee’s perplexed face revealed his complicity.

At this point, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) chimed in with a point of order, explaining that Washington, D.C. is full of law firms, that law firms are full of people, and it is not reasonable for Harris to assume Kavanaugh automatically knows everyone who works at this one specific law firm. He joked, “They’re like rabbits, they form new firms.”

“There is no possible way we can expect this witness to know who populates an entire firm,” Lee said, respectfully waiting as protesters shouted him down. The Utah senator asked if there was a list of names Kavanaugh could be given.

Despite Lee’s point of order, Kamala Harris repeated her question, whether or not the nominee had discussed Mueller’s investigation with anyone at Kasowitz, Benson, and Torres. “You asked me that, I need to know who works there,” Kavanaugh responded.

“I think you can answer the question without me giving you a list of all employees of that law firm,” Harris insisted.

“Well, actually I can’t,” the nominee responded.

“Why not?” the seemingly deaf Harris asked.

“Because I don’t know who works there,” Kavanaugh explained.

“So you’re not denying?” Harris finally concluded. “I’ll move on. Clearly, you’re not going to answer the question.”

Sorry, Senator Harris, but Kavanaugh is entirely in his right to refuse to answer your ridiculous question, and will remain so until you provide him a list of the people at the law firm, or at least until he would be able to see such a list.

Naturally, the Democratic senator was far from done. Having covered her own personal Mueller witch hunt, she proceeded on to the white nationalist riots in Charlottesville, Va., last August.

Kamala Harris brought up Charlottesville, asking Kavanaugh if he agreed with President Trump’s remarks (“I think there is blame on both sides”).

The nominee rightly refused to get into the political comments.

“One of the principles I’ve articulated throughout this hearing is the independence of the judiciary,” Kavanaugh responded.

Harris cut him off. “Sir, I’d appreciate it if you’d answer the question.”

“I am, senator,” he responded. “One of the things judges do, following the lead of the chief justice, is stay out of current events, because it risks confusion about what our role is. We are judges who decide cases and controversy. We are not pundits. We don’t comment on current events. We stay out of political controversy.”

Harris could not accept this response. “Are you saying it’s too difficult a question?” she asked. “Are you saying that you can’t answer that very simple question?”

“I’m saying that the principle of the independence of the judiciary means that I can’t insert myself into politics in either of two ways: commenting on political events or, in my view, commenting on things said by politicians — a governor, a senator, a congressperson, a president. I’m not here to assess comments made in the political arena because the risk is I’ll be drawn into the political arena.”

The senator finally admitted that Kavanaugh would not denounce the president’s comments, so she turned to her other white supremacist witch hunt topic. “Have you ever heard the term ‘racial spoils system’?” she asked.

After the nominee admitted that he had, Harris pointed to his Wall Street Journal op-ed explaining his amicus brief in the Supreme Court case Rice v. Cayetano (2000). In that op-ed, Kavanaugh used the term “racial spoils system” twice. Harris asked what the term “racial spoils system” means to the nominee.

“I’m not sure what I was referring to then. But what I do know is that the Supreme Court, on a 7-2 margin…” agreed with his position.

Harris again cut him off. “Are you aware that the term is commonly used by white supremacists?” she asked.

“Senator, when I wrote that, that was 20 years ago, in the context of a voting restriction that denied African-Americans and Latinos the ability to vote in Hawaii, I was representing a client when I articulated that,” Kavanaugh responded.

Harris went on to call “racial spoils system” a “loaded term,” essentially a dog whistle for white supremacy.

Did Kavanaugh use the term the same way a white supremacist would? First off, in his op-ed, Kavanaugh noted early on that the issue was Hawaii’s action restricting voting to people of a certain race, and that this restriction excludes people on the basis of race “whether Latino or African-American or Caucasian, for example.”

In this context, any reference to “Hawaii’s naked racial spoils system” is not a white supremacist push, as Kavanaugh clearly intended to protect Latino and African-American citizens as well.

Harris’ suggestion that Kavanaugh was writing a white supremacist dogwhistle is ridiculous. No white supremacist would complain about the harms to Latino and African-American voters.

The California senator — who is rumored to be mulling a 2020 presidential run — jumped down Kavanaugh’s throat again and again, without evidence and without substance. She accused him of collaborating with Trump’s lawyer against Mueller. She accused him of defending the white nationalist riots in Charlottesville. She accused him of using a white supremacist term.

These insinuations are disgusting, and should be widely condemned.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.