Posts tagged with "Senate Judiciary Committee"

Senator Dianne Feinstein dies at age 90

October 2, 2023

Senator Dianne Feinsten (D-California), one of the Senate’s most prominent female legislators, has died at the age of 90, a person with knowledge of her passing has confirmed.

Punchbowl first reported the news of Feinstein’s death.

According to a report by The Hill, Feinstein served three decades as a senator from California, becoming an icon and a trailblazer in the process.

A former mayor of San Francisco, Feinstein was the longest-serving member of the Senate Democratic conference—and during her Senate tenure left a mark on a range of issues, including national security and gun control.

Feinstein, who had been struggling with her health, had missed some work last week.

“She didn’t feel well this morning,” Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) said on Thursday, September 28—noting that Feinstein was unable to attend a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Feinstein had taken part in Senate votes on Thursday morning.

Feinstein had to rely on a wheelchair to get around the Senate after she missed nearly three months of work in Washington because of a severe bout with shingles earlier this year.

She was first elected to the Senate in 1992, which became known as the Senate’s “year of the woman” after Sens. Patty Murray (D-Washington), Carol Moseley Braun (D-Illinois), and Barbara Boxer (D-California) were elected that same year.

Feinstein’s death leaves a vacancy on the powerful Judiciary Committee and shrinks the Senate Democratic majority to 50 seats.  California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) will appoint her temporary replacement.  

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) praised Feinstein as a “legend” in a statement to the Bay Area’s ABC7. 

“She’s a legend. A legend in California as the first woman senator. A legend in the Senate. She was the leader on so many different issues,” he said.  

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) told the Bay Area outlet that Feinstein was “an icon for women in politics.”

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis (North Carolina), who served with Feinstein on the Senate Judiciary Committee, praised her as a “trailblazer.”

“She was one of the most effective legislators in recent memory because of her willingness to work across the aisle in good faith in order to solve complex problems,” he said.

Research contact: @thehill

Senate Judiciary Committee advances Supreme Court ethics bill

July 24, 2023

On Thursday, July 20, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced legislation that would require the Supreme Court to adopt an ethics code, with Democrats following through on their pledge for legislative action after a series of reports about Justice Clarence Thomas’ relationship with a Republican real estate magnate, reports CBS News.

Called the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal and Transparency Act, the bill from lead sponsor Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse cleared the committee along party lines, 11-10.

During the committee’s consideration of the measure, Republicans introduced several amendments touching on the protests outside Supreme Court justices’ homes, the leak of the draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, Supreme Court expansion, and imposing new rules on reporters who cover the high court.

All of the GOP senators’ proposed changes failed, with the exception of one: An amendment from Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana that, after it was modified, condemns racist attacks and comments against current or former justices, including Thomas, which passed unanimously.

GOP lawmakers have said Whitehouse’s bill is dead on arrival in the full Senate and Republican-controlled House.

The Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act of 2023 would:

  • Require Supreme Court Justices to adopt a code of conduct;
  • Create a mechanism to investigate alleged violations of the code of conduct and other laws;
  • Improve disclosure and transparency when a Justice has a connection to a party or amicus before the Court; and
  • Require Justices to explain their recusal decisions to the public.

U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Rights, released the following statement on the vote:

“We’ve been working for 11 years to encourage the Supreme Court to adopt a binding code of conduct for all its Justices, whether appointed by Democratic or Republican Presidents. Chief Justice Roberts had his chance to act, and he refused. Now, we will—and it’s well within our constitutional authority to act. These reforms would apply in equal force to all Justices and—importantly—reinforce the Court’s legitimacy, contrary to the unfounded assertions by Senate Judiciary Republicans. It’s time for the nine Supreme Court Justices to abide by a code of conduct just like every other federal official. We look forward to working with our colleagues on its consideration before the full Senate.”

Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said the legislation would bring Supreme Court justices in line with other federal officials and is a “crucial first step in restoring confidence” in the high court.

“Unlike every other federal official, Supreme Court justices are not bound by a code of ethical conduct. They are the most powerful judges in America and yet they are not required to follow even the most basic ethical standards,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he supports the committee’s work and looks forward to working with his Democratic colleagues “to make progress” on the bill.

“It’s time for the highest court in the land to be held to the highest ethical standards,” he said in a statement. “Today’s markup reaffirms Senate Democrats’ commitment to rebuild our country’s faith in our judiciary and reestablish legitimacy in our courts. We must ensure that the Supreme Court is not in the pocket of the ultra-wealthy and MAGA extremists.”

The proposal, though, is highly unlikely to become law due to the opposition from Republicans in the Senate and House. GOP senators have painted the revelations about Thomas as part of a broader attempt by Democrats to delegitimize the high court’s conservative majority.

Senator Lindsey Graham, the Judiciary Committee’s top Republican, put the bill’s prospects in stark terms, saying, “This ill-conceived effort in the name of reforming the court will go nowhere in the United States Senate.

“This is a bill to destroy a conservative court. It’s a bill to create a situation where conservative judges can be disqualified by statute. It’s a bill to rearrange the makeup of how the court governs itself, and it’s an assault on the court itself,” he said during the Judiciary Committee meeting.

Research contact: @CBSNews

Over 30 progressive groups initiate nationwide push for structural changes at the Supreme Court

April 20, 2023

In the aftermath of ethics questions emerging around Justice Clarence Thomas and a series of politically charged rulings, a coalition of more than 30 progressive groups plans to initiate next week a new nationwide campaign calling for structural changes to the Supreme Court, reports The New York Times.

The effort will include progressive leaders and organizations that have not previously been engaged in the push to overhaul the court, including by imposing term limits on justices or increasing their numbers. But leaders of the organizations say they now see the need to spur a larger public discussion about the role of the court in American life.

“This is new to us,” said Mini Timmaraju, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. She said her organization’s decision to join the campaign was driven in part by recent court decisions on abortion rights, gun control and other issues that run counter to well-documented public opinion.

“We feel a special obligation to jump in now,” she said. “It feels the time is right to start having this conversation about expansion. Everything has to be on the table.”

Those taking part in the “Just Majority” drive, with the theme “democracy demands a fair and ethical court,” say one goal is to motivate voters to make the direction of the court part of their calculation in next year’s elections. The organizations participating are active on abortion rights, gun control, voting laws, civil rights, racial justice and the environment, along with more traditional judicial advocacy groups.

The campaign kicks off on Monday, April 24, in Boston, the first city in a 20-stop nationwide bus tour, and is scheduled to end in late June in Washington. Democratic lawmakers are expected to make appearances along the way, beginning in Boston with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey, and Representative Ayanna S. Pressley, all of Massachusetts.

The effort follows new disclosures about Justice Thomas’s unreported financial ties to a billionaire Republican donor as well as evidence of the court’s declining credibility with the public after overturning Roe v. Wade and other decisions.

“The revelations about Clarence Thomas are extremely upsetting,” said Cecile Richards, the former head of Planned Parenthood, who will be taking part in the campaign. “For years, Republicans have made the court an issue. I think it is time that Democrats actually talk to voters about what is going on.”

In the case of Justice Thomas, he has said he intends to revise his financial disclosures to reflect his relationship with the donor, Harlan Crow, who has provided extensive travel for the justice and also purchased property in Georgia that Justice Thomas owned and where his 94-year-oldmother lives, according to reports by ProPublica.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to conduct a hearing in the next few weeks—exploring the disclosures about Justice Thomas, as well as considering longstanding demands that the court adopt a more stringent set of ethics guidelines and disclosure requirements.

Republicans have so far dismissed the Democratic efforts and say they believe the court is fully capable of taking care of any issues it might have.

“I have total confidence in the chief justice of the United States to deal with these court internal issues,” Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, said on Tuesday, April 18,  in response to questions about Justice Thomas. He suggested that the attacks by Democrats were in response to rulings they opposed.

After McConnell blocked President Barack Obama from filling a court seat for nearly a year in 2016, progressive activists who then watched President Donald Trump name three justices to the court began clamoring for a new approach, including a larger court.

Under pressure from the left, President Joe Biden created a 34-member commission of legal experts and academics to study various proposals to change the court, including enlarging it and establishing term limits. Biden, himself, expressed reservations about pursuing significant changes to the court and the final report by his commission reflected that view, analyzing the proposals rather than recommending any significant revisions.

Some former members of the commission who disagreed with that approach will participate in the bus tour. Organizers say the court continues to provide ammunition for its critics with persistent ethical issues and contentious decisions.

“It continues to invite more people into our struggle and it will put more fuel not just in our bus, but in our message to fight,” said Rashad Robinson, the president of Color of Change, a civil rights advocacy group taking part.

In a mission statement, those organizing the new campaign said that “an unaccountable, unethical majority on the Supreme Court is behaving as if the rules don’t apply to them.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Report: Clarence Thomas didn’t disclose decades of lavish trips with billionaire GOP donor

April 7, 2023

Influential Democrats and judicial advocates are demanding action after a ProPublica report published on Thursday, April 6, outlined Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ undisclosed ties to GOP megadonor Harlan Crow.

Thomas “has accepted luxury trips virtually every year” from Crow for more than two decades without reporting them, ProPublica was the first to report—citing travel records and interviews. Thomas’ failure to disclose the trips appears to violate a law requiring judges, members of Congress, and other federal officials to report most gifts, including private jet flights, according to the article.

According to a report by HuffPost, Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice, a progressive judicial advocacy group, called on the Senate to not let “this extraordinary display of corruption and lawbreaking go unanswered.”

“Senate Democrats cannot force Thomas to resign or give him the impeachment trial he clearly deserves, but they can hold hearings to further expose Justice Thomas’ apparent lawbreaking and the Republican justices’ deep ties to far-right donors,” Fallon said.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called for more oversight over the court, which lacks a binding ethics code.

“This cries out for the kind of independent investigation that the Supreme Court—and only the Supreme Court, across the entire government—refuses to perform,” Whitehouse said.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) said Thomas should be impeached: “This is beyond party or partisanship. This degree of corruption is shocking — almost cartoonish,” she wrote on Twitter.

Thomas already has been under fire over ethics issues. He failed to recuse himself in a case brought by then-President Donald Trump seeking to block the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection from obtaining access to White House documents and communications, even though his wife worked with Trump supporters to undo the 2020 election.

Thomas ignored ProPublica’s questions and has not responded to its report. Crow told ProPublica that he and his wife never discussed any cases with Thomas, and “never sought to influence Justice Thomas on any legal or political issue.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

Rep. Adam Schiff to run for Senate in California

January 30, 2023

Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who emerged as one of former President Donald Trump’s chief congressional tormentors from his perch atop the House Intelligence Committee, announced on Thursday, January 26, that he would seek the Senate seat long held by Dianne Feinstein, reports The New York Times.

“I wish I could say the threat of MAGA extremists is over,” he said in a video on Twitter. “It is not. Today’s Republican Party is gutting the middle class, threatening our democracy. They aren’t going to stop. We have to stop them.”

Schiff, 62, is the second member of California’s Democratic congressional delegation to join the 2024 race, after Representative Katie Porter.

He enters the campaign with the largest national profile, according to the Times—built from his position as the manager of Trump’s first impeachment trial. He later served on the House committee responsible for investigating the origins of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

On Tuesday, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, exiled Schiff and Representative Eric Swalwell, another California Democrat, from the House Intelligence Committee in retribution for their actions toward Republicans when Democrats held the majority.

Feinstein, 89, has not said whether she will run again in 2024; but is widely expected not to do so as she faces Democratic worries about her age and ability to serve. Last year, she declined to serve as president pro tem of the Senate, and in 2020 she ceded her post as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee after coming under pressure from her party during the Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

In an interview with the Times on Thursday, Schiff said he had first apprised Senator Feinstein of his plans several weeks ago, in person, on Capitol Hill and again by phone on Wednesday.

“She was very gracious,” he said. “I let her know that I wanted to make my announcement, and she could not have been nicer about it.”

Schiff said that he did not want to speculate about whether Feinstein might retire, and that she deserved to set her own schedule for making an announcement about her political future.

“Once more, I have a genuine admiration and affection for her, and wanted to do everything I can to respect that,” he said.

A former federal prosecutor, Schiff served in California’s State Senate before being elected to a Los Angeles-area House seat in 2000.

In Congress, he became a close ally of (former) Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who tapped him to play a leading role in Trump’s impeachment trial and then on the January 6 committee. Last fall, Schiff passed on a chance for a slot on the post-Pelosi House leadership team in order to focus on a planned run for the Senate.

During and after the Trump years, Schiff became one of the most prodigious fund-raisers in Congress. During the 2018 election cycle, he raised $6.3 million, and then his fund-raising surged to $19.6 million in 2020 and $24.5 million in 2022 — without a competitive election of his own to wage. He has not faced a serious challenge since arriving in Congress, winning each of his general elections by at least 29 percentage points.

According to the latest Federal Election Commission reports, Schiff had $20.6 million in campaign money at the end of November; compared with $7.7 million for Porter and $54,940 for Representative Barbara Lee, who has told donors of her plans to run.

While Schiff and Lee’s House seats are safely Democratic, Porter’s is far more contested; she won re-election in November by three percentage points.

California—the nation’s most populous state with nearly 40 million residents—has not hosted a highly competitive contest for an open Senate seat since 1992, when Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, a fellow Democrat, were both elected for the first time.

Feinstein, who is in her sixth term, has been trailed by questions about her fitness to serve. Problems with her short-term memory have become an open secret on Capitol Hill, although few Democrats have been willing to discuss the subject publicly.

She has made no moves to suggest she will seek re-election in 2024. She has not hired a campaign staff and, in the latest campaign finance report for the period ending in September, had less than $10,000 in cash on hand—a paltry sum for a sitting senator.

Not since the early 1990s have both sitting senators from California been men. When asked whether electing a woman might be a priority for some voters after the Supreme Court’s repeal last year of Roe v. Wade, Schiff played down the potential role of gender in the race.

“I’m very proud of my fierce efforts to protect women’s reproductive freedom and my pro-choice record is a stellar one,” he said.

Schiff had earlier suggested that his election to the Senate could be symbolic in another way: “I think a lot of Californians will relish the idea of making Adam Schiff Kevin McCarthy’s home-state senator,” he said.

Research contact: @nytimes

‘It wouldn’t be my choice for judge’: Senate Democrats slam Biden’s planned anti-abortion pick

July 13, 2022

Several Senate Democrats said on Monday, July 11, that they planned to vote against the confirmation of a conservative, anti-abortion federal judge nominee if President Joe Biden follows through with a purported deal with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, reports USA Today. 

The strong reaction from Democrats on Biden’s planned nomination of attorney Chad Meredith in Kentucky raised the prospects that the president’s own party could block the pick, should he move forward.

“All I’m going to tell you is I’m going to vote no,” said Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) on Monday. “It’s his call, but if he asked me for my advice I would say I don’t know how many Democrats are planning on voting yes.”

Biden has not formally nominated Meredith, a Federal Society attorney who has fought against abortion rights.  But—as first reported exclusively by The Courier Journal—a White House official informed Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear‘s office in an email on June 23 that the Biden Administration planned to nominate Meredith to a U.S. District Court judgeship in Kentucky’s Eastern District the next day.

The next morning, however, the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade—ending the constitutional right to abortion and sending shock waves across the nation. Meredith’s intended nomination was not announced or submitted.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which takes up federal judicial nominations, said he spoke last week to the White House about the potential Meredith nomination.

“What’s in it for us? They didn’t give a specific answer,” Durbin told reporters, according to Politico. He said Democrats would not support Meredith’s confirmation “on his merits alone.”

Durbin told USA TODAY he needs to “know more,” including whether there was any arrangement with McConnell, adding: “It wouldn’t be my choice for judge.”

Biden could try to win support of a Meredith nomination with Republican votes in an evenly divided Senate. But a president fighting his own party for a lower-court judicial nominee would be highly unusual, and he would have to overcome a Judiciary Committee controlled by Democrats.

McConnell has refused to comment until Biden officially submits a nominee, but his camp has dismissed talk of a deal as “false information.”

Biden’s potential nomination of Meredith has fueled a backlash from progressive activists who have demanded bolder action from the Biden Administration after the Supreme Court decision.

Several pro-abortion-rights groups have called the potential nomination “unacceptable” and demanded Biden not move ahead with it.

nominated,” Brown said. “He should not send the name on.”

Research contact: @USATODAY

Ex-U.S. attorney reportedly testifies, ‘I quit before Trump could fire me for denying election fraud claims’

August 12, 2021

During closed-door testimony on Wednesday, August  11, Byung J. Pak, a former U.S. attorney in Atlanta, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he resigned abruptly last January after being told that then-President Donald Trump was going to fire him for refusing to say there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia, a person familiar with the testimony told The New York Times.

Pak said the warning came on January 3 from top Justice Department officials who relayed that Trump wasn’t happy when Pak announced he had investigated Trump’s claims of voter fraud in Fulton County and found no evidence, the Times notes.

Rather than be publicly fired, Pak wrote a letter of resignation on January 4—stating that he did his best “to be thoughtful and consistent, and to provide justice for my fellow citizens in a fair, effective, and efficient manner,” The Week reports.

On anuary 3, audio was leaked to The Washington Post of a January 2 phone call Trump had with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), during which Trump asked Raffensperger to find the number of votes needed to overturn the state’s election results and deliver him a victory.  During the call, Trump made a reference to “your never-Trumper U.S. attorney there.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating the last weeks of the Trump presidency and pressure his administration put on the Justice Department to falsely claim the election was stolen. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters that Pak “answered all questions in a seemingly honest and candid way, and my impression is that he believes in the rule of law and that he stood up for it.”

The WeeResearch contact: @TheWeek

Speaker Pelosi says AG Barr perjured himself before Congress—and reprisals are required

May 3, 2019

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) is outraged over the Attorney General’s obfuscations—in his written summary of the Mueller report; in his characterization of his communications with the special counsel; and in his congressional testimony.

Pelosi said on Thursday, May 2 that AG William Barr  had committed a crime by lying to lawmakers during his testimony on Capitol Hill, The Hill reported.

“What is deadly serious about it is the attorney general of the United States of America was not telling the truth to the Congress of the United States. That’s a crime,” Pelosi said during a press conference in the Capitol.

The remarks came as Democrats on Capitol Hill are increasingly lashing out at Barr for his handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia’s election interference.

Some lawmakers are pressing for Barr to resign; others have floated the idea of impeachment; and still others—chief among them, the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler (D-New York)—are weighing whether to bring contempt of Congress charges against AG, who refused an invitation to testify before the House panel and its counsels on Thursday.

Pelosi, who has been cautious to date about escalating the standoff between her caucus and the GOP, declined to say how—or if—Democrats would challenge Barr’s actions, deferring those decisions to the committee heads. But she strongly suggested some response is forthcoming.

Pelosi cited a recent statement from Representative Nadler, which warned that “Barr’s moment of accountability will come soon enough.”

“I think that probably applies,” Pelosi said. Asked if jail time is appropriate for Barr, she again punted to the committees.

“There’s a process that’s involved here,” she said, according to The Hill. “The committees will act upon how we will proceed.”

Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, May 1, Barr was grilled by panel Democrats, who accused him of misrepresenting the Mueller team’s findings for the political purpose of protecting President Donald Trump, the news outlet said.

The Democratic rebukes were fueled by revelations that Mueller had written to Barr on March 24 and called him directly on March 25, expressing concerns over the nature of the attorney general’s four-page summary of Mueller’s report.

In that letter, which became public just hours before Wednesday’s Senate hearing, Mueller said ““The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.”

Barr, after receiving the letter, testified to Congress that he was ‘”not aware”of any reservations from Mueller or his team regarding the summary letter.

According to the Hill, Pelosi said she “lost sleep” Wednesday night watching replays of Barr’s testimony.

“How sad it is for us to see the top law enforcement officer in our country misrepresenting—withholding—the truth from the Congress of the United States,” she said.

Asked directly whether Barr committed a crime, Pelosi didn’t hesitate.

“He lied to Congress; he lied to Congress. And if anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime,” Pelosi said.

“Nobody is above the law; not the president of the United States, and not the attorney general.”

Research contact: @thehill

Standoff on Special Counsel Act persists between Flake and McConnell

November  19, 2018

Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona)—who is leaving the U.S. Congress in December, but flirting with a primary run against President Trump in 2020—has everything to win and little to lose. Last week, he pushed that advantage by taking to the Senate floor with across-the-aisle colleague Senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware.) in an attempt to secure immediate passage of S. 2644, the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act.

The bill, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in April by a bipartisan vote of 14-7, once again was blocked by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who continues to say that the legislation to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is not necessary because the probe is not under pressure.

However, following the president’s removal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions one day after the midterm elections—and subsequent appointment of Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, a White House acolyte—Flake asserted, “The president now has this investigation in his sights and we all know it.”

And he backed that assertion with two threats: One further note on this unanimous consent request: because it has failed today, Senator Coons and I are prepared to raise it again and again, until there is a vote on this vital bipartisan legislation on the Senate floor. And I have informed the Majority Leader that I will not vote to advance any of the 21 judicial nominees pending in the Judiciary Committee, or vote to confirm the 32 judges awaiting a confirmation vote on the floor, until S. 2644 is brought to the full Senate for a vote.”

At a closed-door lunch on the following day, November 15, both Flake and McConnell were equally implacable. “It’s a standoff,” said a Republican senator who attended the lunch, in an interview with The Hill.

According to the political news outlet, McConnell argued at the lunch meeting that the legislation would chew up precious floor time during the lame-duck session and leave less time for must-pass bills such as the unfinished spending bills and the farm bill, according to sources familiar with the conversation.

Flake, who is retiring at the end of this Congress, didn’t buy that argument. Flake argued that the bill could be dealt with in a day as long as other members of the GOP conference didn’t object to it and force McConnell to waste time getting through a filibuster.

Some Republican senators floated the compromise of crafting some kind of non-binding resolution that would express support for protecting Mueller and future special counsels from unjustified dismissal. But Flake rejected that option, too, The Hill reported.

Asked Thursday if fellow GOP senators are unhappy with his hardball approach to getting a vote, Flake said, “That’s a safe assumption.”

Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) held over 15 judicial nominees at a committee business meeting Thursday after Flake declared he would block them. Speaking to reporters afterward, Grassley said he didn’t think he could move any more nominees without Flake’s support, unless he can convince Democrats on the panel to vote with him.

As the impasse continued, a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey found that 40% of likely U.S. voters believe Mueller’s investigation should be closed. Fifty-one percent (51%) think the probe of Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election should continue.

Research contact: @alexanderbolton

Grassley: FBI report does not corroborate sexual assault allegations

October 5, 2018

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said on September 4 that there is no corroboration of sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in a supplementary FBI report submitted to the Senate, according to a report by The Hill.

The Senate is scheduled for a floor vote on the nominee on Friday, October 5. The report, requested on September 28 by the White House at the behest of committee member Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), was delivered to the committee at 2:30 a.m. on September 4; after the FBI had done a tightly constrained investigation of just nine or 10 individuals—depending on the news source—whose names were specified on a list provided by the Trump administration.

“I’ve now received a committee staff briefing on the FBI’s supplement to Judge Kavanaugh’s background investigation file. There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know,” Grassley said in a statement.

“These uncorroborated accusations have been unequivocally and repeatedly rejected by Judge Kavanaugh, and neither the Judiciary Committee nor the FBI could locate any third parties who can attest to any of the allegations. There’s also no contemporaneous evidence,” he added.

“This investigation found no hint of misconduct…I’ll be voting to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”

Grassley made his statement after being briefed by Senate GOP staff who viewed the report.

Senators have been filing into and out of the securely compartmentalized information facility in the Capitol Visitor Center to view the report Thursday morning.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (California), the Ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, noted that the investigation had been anything but comprehensive. “The White House certainly blocked access to millions of documents from Judge Kavanaugh’s record, I know that,” she tweeted at 11:16 a.m. on September 4, noting also, ““We have seen even more press reports of witnesses who wanted to speak with the FBI but were not interviewed.

The FBI did not interview either nominee Brett Kavanaugh or sexual assault accuser Christine Blasey Ford. “It’s obviously a cover-up,” commented Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts). “The Trump White House, working with the Republican leadership in the Senate, have deliberately circumscribed this investigation”

Attorneys for Ford said that they and their client are “profoundly disappointed” that the FBI investigation into her claims doesn’t seem thorough, according to a report by the Huffington Post.

“An FBI supplemental background investigation that did not include an interview of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford―nor the witnesses who corroborate her testimony―cannot be called an investigation,” the lawyers said in a statement Wednesday night. “We are profoundly disappointed that after the tremendous sacrifice she made in coming forward, those directing the FBI investigation were not interested in seeking the truth.”

White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said in a statement early Thursday that the White House “is fully confident the Senate will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.”

“This is now the 7th. time the FBI has investigated Judge Kavanaugh,” President Trump later tweeted. “If we made it 100, it would still not be good enough for the Obstructionist Democrats.”

Research contact: @alexanderbolton