CNN Panelists Endorse Liberal Chaos at Kavanaugh Hearing; Dems ‘Definitely’ Have a Point

Breaking in just after noon Eastern on Tuesday for Inside Politics, panelists expressed support for liberal Senators and protesters repeatedly disrupting and trying to delay the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing, declaring they “had no choice” and “definitely” have a point about Kavanaugh not being transparent with Americans concerning his time in the Bush White House. 

When asked by host John King if “this part of the Democratic argument” was “fair” and whether they “have a point here,” Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic breathlessly played the role of liberal spokeswoman by immediately replying, “definitely.”

 

 

Here’s Biskupic’s spin, dismissing the hundreds of thousands of documents available and showing no difference between herself and liberals (click “expand” for more):

What Senator Grassley was doing was comparing apples to oranges when he went back to the ACLU documents of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and also the Solicitor General documents of John Roberts. It’s White House documents vs. White House documents. The White House documents of Brett Kavanaugh are being withheld and screened severely. The white house documents of John Roberts and Elena Kagan were revealed. So it’s — it really is different. The Democrats — I know this is such a polarized, partisan situation, but they do have a point. They're saying we can't really do our job without knowing at least some of that material.

Earlier, King dipped into the coverage to deem the hearing “contentious” and “remarkable process” of Democrats on the dais and in the audience disrupting what’s supposed to be a peaceful hearing. King conceded that “it’s all about politics” and further proof that “Democrats began this hearing knowing they don't have the math,” but nonetheless refused to chide them for what took place.

Senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju took a similar track, making no effort to condemn the lack of decorum. Instead, he passed it along as logical because “the strategy this morning was born out of a lot of pressure from the left” because they “were frustrated with Democrats were not taking a firm enough.”

“Democrats, in a nod to their base, really pushing hard at doing something this rather extraordinary, interrupting of a committee chairman, demanding the end of the hearing. You had protesters. This usually does not happen in the Senate hearing. So it was a pretty remarkable, aggressive move, but right now, it does not change the math,” Raju added.

Time’s Molly Ball spoke moments later and parroted Democratic arguments that this is “above a partisan battle” (click “expand” for more):

Perhaps in some cases, but you have Democrats trying to send a message that elevates this above a partisan battle. You heard in Senator Durbin's comments just now, trying to talk about the extraordinary times we're in, the level of concern among his constituents, trying to say this isn't only about issues that we disagree on, issues that the court could decide, but about the Trump presidency, about the constitutional crisis, about the special counsel. Democrats trying to focus on, you know, the process, the documents, the disclosure of the nominee's record, and the issues surrounding President Trump as a way, I think, of moving this out of the arena of just, you know, partisan issues that they disagree though, of course it is also about that.

While Biskupic first wondered “whether Democrats can keep up the momentum to try to stop, have a pause, get documents, or at least try to bring more public attention” to Kavanaugh’s supposed lack of transparency, King hyped that Democrats “felt they had no choice, that they needed to speak up at the beginning.”

Again showing support for efforts to derail Kavanaugh, King and Raju wondered if the interruptions will cause him to “slip up” (click “expand” for more):

RAJU: Yeah and he was actually ambushed. He was not anticipated this level of aggression from the Democrat. He presumed that there would we a lot of angry comments in their opening statements about process. He did not expect to get interrupted by Democrat after Democrat.....Grassley and the Republicans were caught flat-footed on that, but Grassley did not want to give an inch on this because, if he gave them an inch, they could take a mile and then where does it go from here...But this is just the start. Tomorrow is questioning. The day after is going to be incredibly contentious. The question is does Kavanaugh slip up or not. 

KING: Does he slip up? He gets to speak later today.

Amazingly, the panelist who criticized Tuesday’s events was Michael D. Shear of The New York Times, who acknowledged that “the Democrats are trying to elevate this and trying to play to their base” but what he didn’t grasp was “how that puts pressure on” Republicans.

“[T]he truth is regular people in those states of moderate Republicans in Maine and Alaska are not sitting around debating questions of document production...When they get to the...more substantive questions about abortion and gay rights and, you know, all of the sort of panoply of other issues, that's where at least they have a opportunity to make the case to the regular folks that you should put pressure on these senators,” Shear added.

To see the relevant transcript from CNN’s Inside Politics on August 4, click “expand.”

CNN’s Inside Politics
September 4, 2018
12:01 p.m. Eastern

JOHN KING: This is day one of his confirmation hearings. Contentious, they're already off schedule because of Democratic complaints, partly about the process, partly pant the nominee. It's been a remarkable process. So far, Democrats complaining from the get go that this hearing should be delayed, postponed because they say 42,000 pages of documents provided to them just last night....Look I’ll play some of it in a moment, you saw Democrats right out of the box the hearing, postpone the hearing, you're not being fair. It’s all about politics at the start. We'll get to the policy when Judge Kavanaugh starts answering questions. He could, replacing Anthony Kennedy, change the court balance on abortion, on affirmative action, on gay rights, on health care access. But, so far it's been about politics. That tells me the Democrats began this hearing knowing they don't have the math. They're trying to stop it at the beginning because they don't have the votes at the end.

MANU RAJU: Yeah, I mean, their best hope is to convince Republicans to defect and right now there's no sign that any two Republicans will ultimately defect. Their best hopes is for Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maines to do that and neither of them are on the commit, but the strategy this morning was born out of a lot of pressure from the left. A lot of groups on left were frustrated with Democrats were not taking a firm enough. They demanded full-out boycott on today's hearing because of their frustration that they've have not gotten enough documents from his time as both the Bush White House staff secretary as well as the White House counsel’s office and they were provided 42,000 pages of documents last night that no one really had a chance to go through and those were confidential. They could even release publicly, so all these process complaints really bubbling up and Democrats, in a nod to their base, really pushing hard at doing something this rather extraordinary, interrupting of a committee chairman, demanding the end of the hearing. You had protesters. This usually does not happen in the Senate hearing. So it was a pretty remarkable, aggressive move, but right now, it does not change the math.

KING: And they're essentially more than an hour behind schedule because Chairman Grassley let that play out. He let the Democrats complain again and again and again. Let's play a flavor of it at the start here. Every Democrat on the committee is unhappy, but among those most vocal, put the raw politics out there, a number of Democrats who serve on this committee who are thinking about running for President in 2020. 

(....)

KING: It is, Molly Ball, just a remarkable insight. Look, this is for a Supreme Court. It’s a lifetime appointment. It's to replace Anthony Kennedy. But it also comes at a time when this is as much about President Trump as it is about Brett Kavanaugh. And is it as much about the tensions within the Democratic Party and in some cases, ambition within Democratic Party.

MOLLY BALL: Perhaps in some cases, but you have Democrats trying to send a message that elevates this above a partisan battle. You heard in Senator Durbin's comments just now, trying to talk about the extraordinary times we're in, the level of concern among his constituents, trying to say this isn't only about issues that we disagree on, issues that the court could decide, but about the Trump presidency, about the constitutional crisis, about the special counsel. Democrats trying to focus on, you know, the process, the documents, the disclosure of the nominee's record, and the issues surrounding President Trump as a way, I think, of moving this out of the arena of just, you know, partisan issues that they disagree though, of course it is also about that.

KING: This is your wheelhouse, Joan. Have you ever seen anything like this? In the sense that, again, we knew this was the Kennedy seat, we knew it was the trump presidency. We know we're in a midterm election year with that election just around the corner but remarkable. 

JOAN BISKUPIC: I've been covering these since 1990 with David Souter and I've never seen as dramatic an opening. The question is going to be though, whether Democrats can keep up the momentum to try to stop, have a pause, get documents, or at least try to bring more public attention to the fact that this man has been nominated to such a crucial seat, and they really do not have his full record before them. They really don't even have a partial record before them, but Chairman Grassley keeps referring to other nominees that have been up there, maybe referring to their other records, but this really is different from the other records. 

MICHAEL SHEAR: I mean, look, I everybody is right, that the Democrats are trying to elevate this and trying to play to their base. What I don't understand is how that puts pressure on the Republican senators that Manu mentioned. I mean, the truth is regular people in those states of moderate Republicans in Maine and Alaska are not sitting around debating questions of document production and so that can't possibly be the thing that’s going to motivate them. When they get to the quest — more substantive questions about abortion and gay rights and, you know, all of the sort of panoply of other issues, that's where at least they have a opportunity to make the case to the regular folks that you should put pressure on these senators. 

BISKUPIC: Also, I was going to say maybe to say in the documents might be his true views on those important issues. They're going to have to make that connection and make it stick. 

KING: Well, to that point — to that point, you’re right about the substance in terms of judge Kavanaugh's views. Did he say anything as Bush’s staff secretary? Has he said anything in other documents that they have on any of these issues, whether it’s the interrogation tactics Dick Drubin as just asking about that, whether it’s about abortion or other issues, but Democrats — it was pretty clear the Democrats felt they had no choice. That the process was their first opportunity. They felt they had no choice, that they needed to speak up at the beginning.

(....)

KING: Now, that was the question. Now, the chairman had a choice. The Democrats wanted to vote to adjourn the hearing, then to delay the hearing, to do some other things. He could have had votes. He decided not to have votes because he didn't want to give in to the Democrats, I presume unless he didn't think he had the votes. He was going to lose some on the Republican side. But at this moment, he mentioned the Gorsuch hearings. That was a conservative replacing a conservative. There is the policy implication for the Democrats that this is a more conservative, they believe. We don't know until Brett Kavanaugh, if and when he's confirmed, but they believe this is a man more to the right on affirmative action, on abortion, on other big questions, executive power than justice Kennedy, who is leaving. The chairman was quite exasperated

RAJU: Yeah and he was actually ambushed. He was not anticipated this level of aggression from the Democrat. He presumed that there would we a lot of angry comments in their opening statements about process. He did not expect to get interrupted by Democrat after Democrat. This Democratic strategy began over the last several days. They've had private discussions. There was a conference call organized over the weekend by Chuck Schumer, the senate minority leader. Talked to members on the committee, the rank-and-file Democrats in particular on that committee, who wanted to take a much tougher line because of their frustration. Grassley and the Republicans were caught flat-footed on that, but Grassley did not want to give an inch on this because, if he gave them an inch, they could take a mile and then where does it go from here? He believes that if he keeps this process moving forward, ultimately, he'll get confirmed, but this is just the start. Tomorrow is questioning. The day after is going to be incredibly contentious. The question is does Kavanaugh slip up or not. 

KING: Does he slip up? He gets to speak later today. You see him watching patiently here as the Senators go through this. This is part of the process. They get opening statements, which are essentially opening speeches. They just their political views known. In that process, though, a number of Democrats standing up.

(....)

KING: Is this — is this part of the Democratic argument fair in the sense that the Republicans say you've had more documents from Brett Kavanaugh than you've had from any other nominee. The Republicans say there have been past Democratic nominees, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor who either in private practice or in working for the ACLU had private conversations and you didn't see those documents. Do the Democrats have a point here?

BISKUPIC: Definitely, John. What Senator Grassley was doing was comparing apples to oranges when he went back to the ACLU documents of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and also the Solicitor General documents of John Roberts. It’s White House documents vs. White House documents. The white house documents of Brett Kavanaugh are being withheld and screened severely. The white house documents of John Roberts and Elena Kagan were revealed. So it’s — it really is different. The Democrats — I know this is such a polarized, partisan situation, but they do have a point. They're saying we can't really do our job without knowing at least some of that material.

NB Daily Judiciary Kavanaugh Nomination Congress Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats CNN Inside Politics John King Manu Raju Michael Shear Joan Biskupic Molly Ball Brett Kavanaugh Donald Trump
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