Sen. Orrin Hatch accused Democrats who hope to run for president in 2020 as chasing "that coveted TV clip" in their appeals this morning and wishing "we could drop all the nonsense."
He described Judge Kavanaugh as "unquestionably qualified" and said he was "one of the most widely respected judges in the country."
Here's the full quote:
Unfortunately we have all these interest groups screaming from the sidelines and putting pressure on my Democratic colleagues to make this hearing about politics, to make it about pretty much anything except Judge Kavanaugh and his qualifications. We have folks who want to run for president, who want their moment in the spotlight, who want that coveted TV clip. Frankly, I wish we could drop all the nonsense. Judge Kavanaugh is unquestionably qualified, he's one of the most widely respected judges in the country, he's well within the Ju durable mainstream. Any one who wants to argue otherwise wants to banish half the country from the mainstream. Judge, I'm glad you're here today. I'm sorry you're going to have to go through some of these nonsense that's about to come your way, but I hope you do it well.
Just a quick programming note: Sen. Chuck Grassley, the committee chairman, began his opening remarks at 10:47 a.m. ET, more than an hour after the hearing began.
He was delayed by Democratic appeals to adjourn and protesters who repeatedly interrupted the proceedings.
About 10 protesters have been escorted out in the last 10 minutes -- some sharing personal reasons for their protest, like one woman who was in a wheelchair and expressed concern over her pre-existing condition.
Here is some of what was yelled:
- Kavanaugh will enable "President Trump’s ability to pardon themselves."
- "Threat to women’s rights."
- "Brett Kavanaugh is the wrong person for the Supreme Court."
- A woman in a wheelchair said, "I am in a wheelchair and I traveled here from Illinois."
The Capitol Police are arresting people.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh's two daughters just left the hearing.
A source close to Kavanaugh tells CNN “that was always the plan, they’d stay for an hour and go back for intros” later in the day.
There were ongoing discussions throughout the holiday weekend, including a call, led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, where leadership and Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats agreed to do this at the beginning of the hearing, per a person familiar.
Their goal: Democrats want to slow the process and protest the document issue. Efforts will ebb and flow throughout the day. They were given new ammunition with the 42,000 documents sent to the Hill last night.
During the hearing, Republican Senator Thom Tillis called out Democrats during the hearing, and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) confirmed the call.
CNN legal analyst Joan Biskupic, who has covered the Supreme Court for 25 years and is the author of several books on the judiciary, tells us she's "never seen such a disruption" at a hearing such as today's.
Here's her quick take on what we're witnessing:
Stunning. I’ve never seen such a disruption. The question is whether Democrats can keep up the momentum or if this will simply derail for an hour or so. I believe Democrats have a real complaint: Kavanaugh’s staff secretary years during the George W. Bush administration were crucial. Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley keeps talking about quantity, but quantity isn’t relevant if so many of the docs are redacted and partial conversations. Nothing we’ve seen so far adds to the picture of this nominee. Grassley also keeps comparing apples and oranges. He just raised the issue of John Roberts’ documents from his time as solicitor general. But this is about White House counsel work, and Roberts’ materials from that tenure was turned over.
It's fair to say leading into this hearing, liberal groups feared that the Senate Democrats weren’t going to go hard enough on this. They have felt let down by Dems failing to block or challenge enough of Trump's lower court judge nominees. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s folks stepped in to the relief of some of the groups and played a bigger role than they thought he would.
Don't make any weekend plans yet -- Sen. Chuck Grassley just threatened his colleagues that the hearing could extend through Saturday and Sunday.
"I have found that it takes longer to argue why you shouldn't do anything then let people argue why they wanted," he told Democratic colleagues who were raising concerns about the late-night document dump and asking for an adjournment.
"These things are going to be said throughout this hearing. We are going to be in session Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday till we get done this week, so however long people want to take we're going to not necessarily accommodate all obstruction, but if people got something to say, this chairman is gonna let them say it, but it it gets pretty boring to hear the same thing all the time."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, in her opening statement, appealed to Republicans to give Democrats more time to review the recently released documents before continuing with today's hearing.
"I really regret this, but I think you have to understand the frustration on this side of the aisle," Feinstein said.
"Every one on this side of the aisle wants to do a good job," Feinstein added. "They want time to be able to consider what the findings are and there are tens of thousands of pages of emails and other items which could institute findings on a whole host of major subjects that this nominee may be faced with, and they're serious."
"It's not to create a disruption," she explained. "It's not to make this a very bad process. It is to say, 'Majority, give us the time to do our work so that we can have a positive and comprehensive hearing on the man who may well be the deciding vote for many of Americans' futures."