Only five senators attended the testimony of a Parkland shooting survivor who spoke about her concerns about Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.
In her testimony, Parkland shooting survivor Aalayah Eastmond recalled details about the deadly Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
Sens. Chuck Grassley, Sheldon Whitehouse, Cory Booker, Mike Lee and John Kennedy sat and listened to her testimony, which drew applause from those in attendance.
She also criticized Kavanaugh and his reaction to Fred Guttenberg, the father of a slain Parkland student who tried to give him a handshake earlier this week.
“As you make your final decision, think about it as if you had to justify and defend your choice to those who we lost to gun violence," Eastmond testified at Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing.
Guttenberg accused Kavanaugh of ignoring him as he tried to shake his hand. Sources close to Kavanaugh pushed back saying the nominee had no idea who Guttenberg was and that security intervened to end the exchange.
Eastmond also expressed concerns about Kavanaugh's opinions on assault weapons and said too many dangerous people have access to those guns and use them to terrorize Americans.
What Kavanaugh has said: In 2011, Kavanaugh dissented from a majority opinion of the DC Circuit that upheld a ban that applied to semiautomatic rifles in the District of Columbia.
In his dissent, he wrote that the Supreme Court had previously "held that handguns -- the vast majority of which today are semiautomatic -- are constitutionally protected because they have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens."
Watergate era White House counsel John Dean warns that if Kavanaugh is confirmed, “we will have the most pro-presidential powers Supreme Court in the modern era.”
In prepared testimony, Dean says such a court is "deeply troubling" contemporaneous with a "Republican controlled Congress, which has shown no interest in oversight of a Republican president."
Warning the Supreme Court will be a "weak check, at best, on presidential powers," Dean says, "There is much to fear from an unchecked president who is inclined to abuse his presidential powers."
He says he can attest to that "from personal experience."
Dean tells the committee he is happy to share what he thinks would have happened if the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of Nixon.
Dean also goes through Kavanaugh’s past statements and writings on whether a president can be indicted while in office, and finds, "under Judge Kavanaugh’s view, even if a president shot someone in cold-blood on 5th Avenue, that president could not be prosecuted while in office. And based on Judge Kavanaugh’s thinking at the time, he would give a president plenty of time to destroy the evidence."
This morning so far Elizabeth Weintraub who suffers from cerebral palsy testified that she worries if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, he will turn the clock back and take away the rights of people with intellectual disabilities to make decisions for themselves.
She criticized Kavanaugh’s decision in a case concerning whether DC’s disability services officials needed to determine the wishes of the parent/guardian before authorizing elective medical procedures:
Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination matters to me.
When I read the decision in the Doe vs DC case, it made me very upset, because Judge Kavanaugh’s decision completely disrespected people’s rights and their freedom of choice because of their disability.
This is wrong.
All adults deserve to be treated like grown-ups and have the power to make decisions about their lives, especially when it is about their own bodies.
Rochelle Garza, the legal guardian of an undocumented teen who sought access to an abortion last fall while she was in US custody, testified today.
The teen ultimately prevailed before the DC Circuit but Kavanaugh, a judge on that court, dissented from the opinion.
Garza spoke today of "the pain" that Kavanaugh’s decision caused the young woman. She said Kavanaugh’s decision could have led to a process that "could have taken weeks, and might have forced her to carry the pregnancy to term against her will, particularly because Texas bans abortion at 20 weeks and Jane was already 15 weeks pregnant."
About 20 women from the Women’s March and for Center for Popular Democracy Action just walked up near the hearing room and they are holding at the security ropes.
They’re standing in a “funeral procession” line wearing all black, including black veils and T-shirts with various messages including, “I am part of the thousands working in the revolution." Their mouths are covered in black tape, their hands up, and some have written the word “dissent” on their palms.
They are not going inside because they don’t have tickets.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sees no problems getting Judge Brett Kavanaugh confirmed and expects him to be seated on the Supreme Court by "the first Monday in October" -- the start of the new term. He said this to radio host Hugh Hewitt earlier this morning.
Here's the exchange:
Hugh Hewitt: You’ve said many times that Judge Kavanaugh will be confirmed, and that your major power is controlling the calendar. So the question is when will he be confirmed?
Mitch McConnell: Before the end of September. He’ll be on board at the Supreme Court by the first Monday in October, which you and I both know is the beginning of the October term.
Hugh Hewitt: Any doubt in your mind about that result?
MM: None whatsoever. I think any doubts anybody might have had have been dispelled by his virtuoso performance before the Judiciary Committee. I mean, it’s stunning. He’s just a stellar nomination in every respect.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Sen. Cory Booker’s move Thursday to break Senate rules and release emails traded by Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee, despite a “committee confidential” marking, “unusual behavior,” and discussed a potential ethics investigation in a radio interview Friday.
“When you break the Senate rules, it’s something the Ethics Committee could take a look at. And that would be up to them to decide,” McConnell told Hugh Hewitt. “They have an obligation to look into violations of the Senate rules, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they did.”
Booker’s announcement, made in front of cameras and with an air of theatrics, was slammed as a stunt by Republicans who pointed out that the documents in question had already been cleared for public release.
But Booker continued throughout the day Thursday to release documents on Twitter -- some of which appeared to show Kavanaugh’s personal views on the protection of religious interests – that were confirmed by the Judiciary chairman to still be considered committee confidential.
Senator John Cornyn tweeted the following about Senator Corey Booker’s decision to release confidential documents related to Kavanaugh (he included a link to a video).
Booker said at the time "I'm knowingly violating the rules. Sen Cornyn has called me out for it.”
Now, Cornyn is suggesting the Ethics Committee should investigate:
In follow-up tweets, Cornyn explained why:
The Senate Select Committee on Ethics is authorized to receive and investigate allegations of improper conduct which may reflect upon the Senate, violations of law, violations of the Senate Code of Official Conduct and violations of rules and regulations of the Senate recommend disciplinary action; recommend additional Senate rules or regulations to insure proper standards of conduct; and report violations of law to the proper federal and state authorities.
The Kavanaugh hearing resumed at 9:30 a.m. this morning after two days of grueling testimony, that were marked by protests over provided documents from Democrats and members of the public concerned about how Kavanaugh might rule on cases related to abortion and healthcare.
Today, however, will be a little different. For starters, Kavanaugh won't be in the hot seat. Instead, several panels of witnesses, including a Parkland survivor as well as John Dean, the Watergate era White House Counsel, will testify on (or, for some, against) his behalf.