Democrats are still desperate to block the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and are throwing whatever they have at the wall in the hopes that something will stick. Their latest attempt got an assist from the NY Times Thursday. The allegation this time is that Kavanaugh lied to the Senate in 2006 when he said he wasn’t the person “primarily handling” the confirmation process of Judge Charles W. Pickering. Democrats claim Kavanaugh’s emails show that wasn’t true. From the NY Times:
“Testifying under oath before the Judiciary Committee in 2006, Brett Kavanaugh downplayed his role in shepherding the Pickering nomination through the Senate, but the limited documents from Kavanaugh’s time in the White House Counsel’s Office that Chairman Grassley has made public show that he led critical aspects,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader. The files, he said, raise “serious questions about whether Kavanaugh misled the Senate.”
Eventually, we get to the supposedly damning revelations that Democrats have discovered in Kavanaugh’s emails:
Many of the emails showing glimpses of Judge Kavanaugh’s involvement with the Pickering nomination were minor, such as circulating articles or remarks by public officials related to him.
Still, when a room was being reserved for a Pickering event, it was Judge Kavanaugh who was consulted. When the White House press office needed materials about Judge Pickering, it was Judge Kavanaugh who asked the Justice Department for the files and relayed them. When a senator’s chief of staff was coming to the White House to discuss Judge Pickering and another nominee, it was Judge Kavanaugh who planned to meet with her.
This barely qualifies as thin gruel. Kavanaugh never said he didn’t do any work on the nomination. In written testimony, he admitted he “participated in discussions and meetings concerning all of the president’s judicial nominees.” But the idea that reserving a room or asking for files shows he lied when he said he wasn’t “primarily handling” the confirmation seems like a huge stretch.
And National Review’s David French points out an even more glaring problem with this hit piece. No one bothered to ask Judge Pickering if Kavanaugh was a key player in his confirmation process.
I know Judge Pickering well. He’s on the board of the Alliance Defending Freedom, where I was once a senior counsel, and we’ve met many times at ADF events, where I often speak. So I picked up the phone and called him.
First, he told me that no one from the Times tried to contact him before it ran with the story. Next, he told me that he hadn’t even heard of Brett Kavanaugh until Kavanaugh was nominated for the D.C. Circuit. He met with various lawyers at the White House, but he doesn’t remember meeting or interacting with Kavanaugh even once.
Finally, I asked him whom he did remember working with during the confirmation fight. He immediately recalled help from Noel Francisco at the White House (currently solicitor general), Viet Dinh at the Department of Justice, and key members of then-senator Jeff Sessions’s staff. He reaffirmed to me the statement he gave the White House this morning: “While I worked with attorneys in the White House Counsel’s office, I cannot recall a single interaction with Brett Kavanaugh about my judicial nomination. I do not even remember knowing his name at the time. His 2006 testimony is accurate.”
Why wouldn’t the NY Times contact Pickering for comment on a story that hinges on how involved Kavanaugh was in his confirmation? That seems like a fairly basic way to fack check this whole story, assuming the Times was interested in the truth. And the correction added to the bottom of the piece doesn’t really help the NY Times much either:
Correction: August 15, 2018
An earlier version of this article misstated the judge President George W. Bush seated in 2004 using his recess appointment power. It was Judge Charles W. Pickering Sr., not Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh.
Seems like the Times was in a rush and missed a few things.