Hey! Remember Brett Kavanaugh? The Donald Trump SCOTUS appointee who demonstrably lied during his sworn U.S. Senate Confirmation hearings last year before Republicans voted to ram him through to a lifetime appointment on the highest court in the land, anyway? Yeah, we do too. Thankfully, so does our guest on today's BradCast who, as a member of Congress, can actually maybe --- just maybe --- do something to finally bring some accountability there. And, according to a letter signed by him and House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on Tuesday, there is now evidence that they intend to try and do just that! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
But, first up today, NBC News nailed it in a headline we saw only after getting off air today: "Trump turns day of grieving for shooting victims into day of grievances". That about sums it up. On Monday, in a scripted teleprompter speech, the President responded to the two weekend gun massacres that took the lives of at least 31 in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio by asking Americans "to set destructive partisanship aside...and find the courage to answer hatred with unity, devotion and love". But, just over 24 hours later, he began to unleash various attacks on Democrats Beto O'Rourke, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former Vice President Joe Biden, and even managed to tie Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren somehow to the shooter in Dayton. All of that before, during and after what were supposed to be Presidential visits to the two recovering cities, intended to console them and help ease their pain after the twin tragedies.
On Tuesday night, Trump first broke his call for setting aside partisanship with a misfired Twitter snipe at El Paso native Beto O'Rourke's name, in which he told the former Texas Congressman to "be quiet!" after O'Rourke accurately tied the El Paso shooter's white supremacist diatribe to Trump's identical references to an "invasion" at our southern border. But on Wednesday morning, before leaving for his trips to the two grieving cities, he told reports at the White House that he felt his "rhetoric brings people together" and he "would like to stay out of the political fray." That vow didn't even last until he arrived in El Paso, with his new Twitter attacks emanating even while he was on Air Force One.
But in news today that is much less insane, we are joined by REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA), a member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and Chair of its Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet. That subcommittee oversees the federal court system, including the U.S. Supreme Court. On Tuesday, Johnson and Nadler sent a letter to the National Archives and Records Administration requesting records from Justice Kavanaugh's tenure in the White House during the George W. Bush Administration, when he first served in the White House Counsel's office from 2001 to 2003 and then as White House Staff Secretary from 2003 to 2006.
The request includes thousands of documents either never reviewed or never requested by then-U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) during Kavanaugh's SCOTUS confirmation process last year. While Grassley requested no documents at all from Kavanaugh's tenure as Staff Secretary --- during which many decisions were discussed and made in the run-up to Iraq War and about the torture and detention of suspect terrorists and prisoners of war --- thousands of documents from Kavanaugh's time in the White House Counsel's office were withheld from the Senate Judiciary panel last year after they were privately reviewed by Kavanaugh's own personal attorney.
Johnson explains why Democrats are now seeking all of those records, what they hope to find, and what they may do with the information they unearth from them on the Committee which has jurisdiction to launch impeachment proceedings for all federal judges, including Supreme Court Justices.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether the Trump Administration will attempt to block the records request, which asserts the rights of the Committee to review the documents under the Presidential Records Act of 1975. If they are blocked, Johnson tells me, they are prepared to take additional measures to obtain the records. The Georgia Congressman also responds in detail to a number of my questions including whether he supports an expansion of the U.S. Supreme Court in order to unpack the Republican's currently stolen majority; why he is not currently among the majority of House Dems publicly calling to open an official Impeachment Inquiry in his Judiciary Committee; and what he thinks of his home state of Georgia's current plan to move from one 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to an all new, if equally unverifiable touchscreen voting system --- rather than a cheaper, verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system --- before next year's crucial 2020 Presidential election in a state that many believe may finally be ready to flip "blue" after years of GOP dominance in the state.
On what he hopes to find in Kavanaugh's records from the George W. Bush years: "I hope to discover that Justice Kavanaugh has been completely forthright and honest with the U.S. Senate during his confirmation process. Moreover, I hope to find that the conduct of Justice Kavanaugh, during his time as Secretary with the Office of Counsel for the President, at all times conducted himself in a way that would be in keeping with that of someone who now serves on the U.S. Supreme court with a lifetime tenure. And, of course, that is only subject to the House's ability to impeach, should there be a need for it. The American people deserve to know who we have on the US Supreme Court, what his background is, and if he was honest with the Senate in his confirmation proceedings."
On expanding the stolen SCOTUS: "It's no question that the courts have been stacked with judges with a particular political bent...They are holding the future back, and it's hurting America. So we, as the legislative branch, with the power to expand the Supreme Court --- nothing in the Constitution says that it will be a Court of nine Justices --- so we have to look at whether or not its in the efficiency of our process that we need to expand the Court. We really don't need to politicize the courts. But unfortunately the courts have been politicized. So the question is, what do we do? And how will the Supreme Court react to the fact that the legislative branch is open to looking at alternatives to the current way that it does business?"
On why Johnson is not currently among the majority of Dems in the House publicly calling for an official Impeachment Inquiry: He stands by his current position (despite my generous offer to allow him to make news by changing it on today's BradCast), while explaining, "We are proceeding in the nature of an impeachment inquiry at this time, and we're doing so without calling it an impeachment inquiry so as not to put the 31 red-to-blue winners in 2018, new Democrats, not to put them in jeopardy of not being able to come back and keep us in the majority in 2020. ... At some point we may accumulate the record that we can then pass the impeachment resolutions on and then proceed to the evidence --- not just the Mueller Report, but the evidence... take that over to the US Senate and have a trial. " After I press him a bit on his current position, he concedes: "I tell you what --- if you call me back in about two or three months, maybe I will have changed on impeachment."
And, finally, on Georgia's Republican Governor and Sec. of State defying cybersecurity experts to move from one unverifiable touchscreen voting system to another: "I think the way to go is to have hand-marked paper ballots that are then scanned into a counting machine and counted. And then you have the paper ballots that you can test the results of the tally machine against, and that way, you can have a verifiable vote. ... But we cannot do it on this new system that the Georgia legislature has authorized. I think it is a $125 or $150 million dollar expenditure that will be for a system that we can't even rely on. I think it's bad for the taxpayers, it's bad for the voters, it's bad for democracy, and it's a bad move for Georgia."
He offers much more on all of the above, so I hope you'll tune in to listen to today's BradCast...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)