Rep. Joe Neguse is a freshman Democrat from Colorado. Last Friday, Rep. Neguse held a small meet-and-greet with Colorado residents where he was asked, “Looking ahead at the whole impeachment thing, do you see Kavanaugh as like a key part of that?” The man asking the question added, “Are you going to try to use his perjury against him?”
Rep. Neguse replied, “So I think that’s another thing that will come up before the judiciary committee.” He continued, “There’s no question that he committed perjury, right? In the last…during the confirmation hearings and so forth. So I think the judiciary committee is likely to take that up.”
It’s so obvious to Neguse that Kavanaugh committed perjury he doesn’t even bother to explain what he’s talking about. Looking back, there were actually two instances where Kavanaugh was accused of perjury. The first had to do with whether he had lied during a previous confirmation when he’d claimed not to have been involved with the nomination of Judge Pryor while he worked in the George W. Bush administration. Democrats claimed to have emails that proved Kavanaugh was involved in handling the nomination which made his prior statements a case of perjury. There was another accusation from around the same time involving stolen documents which Kavanaugh had said he was unaware of at the time.
A Democratic super-PAC filed what it claimed was a criminal complaint against Kavanaugh over these issues. That made some news but ultimately the Democratic case was not strong. Vox published a story about it at the time where it asked four different legal scholars for their opinions. Here’s the response from Miriam Baer, a professor Brooklyn Law School:
Neither of these two cases meet the high bar for a perjury prosecution.
The first instance, wherein Kavanaugh said he was “not involved in handling” Pryor’s nomination, isn’t even clearly “false.” The question that precedes it is a lengthy question from Senator Kennedy. One could argue that Kavanaugh thought Kennedy was asking whether Kavanaugh played a major role “in the vetting process” for Pryor, or discussed specific Constitutional doctrines with Pryor prior to Pryor’s nomination (Kennedy mentions Pryor’s reported views of the Supreme Court’s Miranda decision). Thus, Kavanaugh’s answer (“No. I was not involved in handling his nomination”) is truthful insofar as Kavanaugh understood “handling” to mean “in charge” of either vetting the person or shepherding that person’s nomination through the Senate. The fact that Kavanaugh apparently was invited to a meeting (and it is unclear from the email how many other people were invited) doesn’t necessarily demonstrate that Kavanaugh’s statement was untrue, much less that he intentionally lied or misled Senator Kennedy.
I don’t see any lie in [the second case]. Instead, he’s effectively saying, “Based on my own response, I don’t think I realized this was a stolen draft.”
None of the other lawyers thought Kavanaugh had perjured himself either. Then in October, there was another round of claims that Kavanaugh had perjured himself. This time the allegation was that he’d lied about when he first heard about allegations made by Deborah Ramirez. The allegation leveled by NBC News was that Kavanaugh had denied discussing the allegation but that emails showed he had discussed it in the weeks prior to it being published. But as our own Ed Morrissey pointed out at the time, Kavanaugh was talking about it because he’d heard that Ramirez was calling around and asking if anyone could back up her story. Also, Kavanaugh was quoted denying the allegation in the story in which it was leveled so he clearly knew about it sometime before it was published.
Rep. Neguse is now on the House Judiciary Committee. Maybe someone at one of the networks will follow up with him about what obvious perjury he believes Kavanaugh committed so he can explain it to the rest of us.