CNN's Cuomo Slams Kavanaugh Hearing as 'Traveshamockery,' Resurrects Guttenberg Conspiracy Theory

During Thursday’s Cuomo PrimeTime, host Chris Cuomo described the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings as a “traveshamockery,” which was a word he claimed he first saw in a beer commercial. Cuomo specifically took issue with “this judge doing his damndest to avoid saying anything that might indicate something about what he thinks about what he may be judging.”

After complaining that Kavanaugh will not “answer anything that might cause controversy,” Cuomo said “the result is that we are all being bathed in this non-speak that I will decode right now.”

Cuomo began by slamming Kavanaugh’s refusal to address “hypothetical” questions, arguing that “hypothetical” actually means “anything that actually matters that I can’t dismiss with a general answer, until I’m on the bench, that is, when it’s too late for anybody to do anything about it.”

 

 

He also criticized Kavanaugh for saying that he would respect Supreme Court precedent as “settled law”:

That answer is good if you’re trying to get a seat on a lower court because those courts must follow the Supreme Court. It does not apply to the Supreme Court itself because they undo precedent and create precedent. That’s what they do. And do you know who made that point in a memo? Kavanaugh. So, for him to say now that it’s settled law when he knows damn well that he can unsettle it once he’s on the bench, and he won’t own the truth of what he wrote back then, that’s a problem.

Cuomo also took issue with Kavanaugh’s stated commitment to “judicial independence,” which he referred to as a “juiced-up nothing.” Cuomo elaborated: “The idea that Supreme Court justices or any judges for that matter are somehow free of political leaning, come on. They’re not computers. They’re people. Their humanity is a virtue, but it’s also something that requires curiosity.”

After lamenting the fact that Supreme Court nominees don’t talk about “the issues, the analyses, what’s important to them and what isn’t,” Cuomo eventually got around to admitting that “Kavanaugh didn’t start the fire” when it came to Supreme Court nominees avoiding giving answers to specific questions on how they might rule on hypothetical cases that may come before them.

He correctly mentioned:

It’s been burning since Robert Bork was burning and said too much and got dinged. Since then, from the left and the right, they protect their nominees with numbers and non-questions and non-answers, and both parties play to it when in power. 

The practice has become known as the “Ginsburg Rule,” after President Clinton’s first Supreme Court nominee, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, refused to indicate how she might rule on cases that may hypothetically come before her during her confirmation hearings.

Later, he concluded by bringing up Kavanaugh’s alleged refusal to shake hands with Fred Guttenberg, the father of a victim of the Parkland school shooting. According to Cuomo, “he refused to apologize or give the man any respect.” He brought up a talking point by a Democratic Senator, who asked “if he won't shake the hand of a man whose kid was murdered simply because of that man’s political leanings, can he be trusted to give a fair shake to cases that he’s going to see?”

 

 

Unfortunately, Cuomo failed to call out the conspiracy theory alleging that Zina Bash, the half-Mexican, half-Jewish attorney seated behind Kavanaugh on the first day of confirmation hearings, made a “white power” symbol. Even though he did not sink so low as to give credence to that concrete example of “fake news,” Cuomo made it clear that he shares the same objective as the #Resistance: Derail the Kavanaugh nomination by any means necessary.

A transcript of the relevant portion of Cuomo PrimeTime is below. Click “expand” to read more.

Cuomo PrimeTime

09/06/18

09:16 PM

CHRIS CUOMO: The Kavanaugh confirmation hearing, it is a traveshamockery, a travesty that is a sham and a mockery. And no, I didn’t make it up. It’s a great word, it comes from a beer commercial like most great things. It is all about this judge doing his damndest to avoid saying anything that might indicate something about what he thinks about what he may be judging. Kavanaugh is not the first. Let’s be fair. He’s just the latest contestant in this game show. The problem is he’s also a longtime political operative and that makes him unusual. And he said lots of things that matter in his nominated position, and he won’t answer anything that might cause controversy on the same. He won’t own his own words. So, the result is that we are all being bathed in this non-speak that I will decode right now. Here is the first weapon. Hypothetical, Okay? The hype of the hypothetical. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I can’t give you an answer on that hypothetical question. A hypothetical question that I can’t begin to answer. I’m not going to answer hypothetical questions. Senator, that sounds like a hypothetical.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Hypothetical. Anything that actually matters that I can’t dismiss with a general answer, until I’m on the bench, that is, when it’s too late for anybody to do anything about it. In other words, it means, I don’t want to answer. So then the Senators say, Okay. Forget about the future. How about the past? Were major cases decided correctly? Then there’s another kind of non-speak. He says, well, those cases are precedent, and I have to respect that, or his go-to phrase is “settled law,” also known as the unsettling notion of settled law. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAVANAUGH: That law is precedent of the Supreme Court that’s been around for a long time and has set the basics for the campaign finance framework. I said that it’s settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: You don’t need to be a lawyer to get this. Settled law means what it sounds like. The Supreme Court has decided. Here’s the thing. That answer is good if you’re trying to get a seat on a lower court because those courts must follow the Supreme Court. It does not apply to the Supreme Court itself because they undo precedent and create precedent. That’s what they do. And do you know who made that point in a memo? Kavanaugh. So, for him to say now that it’s settled law when he knows damn well that he can unsettle it once he’s on the bench, and he won’t own the truth of what he wrote back then, that’s a problem. And his reason why he won’t is the next non-answer. Judicial independence. You have to check the canons, and you can too. Just Google it. This is the juiced-up nothing of judicial independence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAVANAUGH: This moment is a moment of judicial independence. One of my jobs here is not to advance my own interest. I have a responsibility to do judicial independence. It’s rooted in judicial independence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: The idea that Supreme Court Justices or any judges for that matter are somehow free of political leaning, come on. They’re not computers. They’re people. Their humanity is a virtue, but it’s also something that requires curiosity. Go Google the canons of judicial ethics. Look, under independence, you’re going to see that they shouldn’t be giving opinions about a case before they hear it. Fine but there’s so much else that they could talk about, the issues, the analyses, what’s important to them and what isn’t. And they don’t. Why? Bears repeating. Kavanaugh didn’t start the fire. It’s been burning since Robert Bork was burning and said too much and got dinged. Since then, from the left and the right, they protect their nominees with numbers and non-questions and non-answers, and both parties play to it when in power. All right, now, a few points, takeaways for you. He had his basketball team show up today, the kids that he coaches, and they were there to show support. I hope he coaches them to be as evasive on the hoop court as he is about what he would be doing on the Supreme Court. All right? Point two, snark aside, this man may sit in judgment of a President on the issue of whether or not that President can be investigated and Kavanaugh has written a President should be immunized from any type of investigation. Now he won’t talk about why he wrote that then and how it squares with what he feels today. He could be deciding vote on Roe v. Wade. He wrote about Roe v. Wade not being settled law. Now he says it is. He won’t discuss that apparent contradiction. Then there is this moment that sticks with me. You remember this? The non-handshake, right? It is what it appears to you to be, all right? It’s clear to the eye. No matter what the White House thought they were seeing. He refused to apologize or give the man who reached out any respect. Instead, he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAVANAUGH: I’ve not lived in a bubble, and I understand how passionately people feel about particular issues, and I understand how personally people are affected by issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: But he wouldn’t talk about Mr. Guttenberg personally. Now, why does this matter? Maybe it doesn’t to you. But it does to me, and here’s why. As one Senator said, if he won’t shake the man, the hand of a man whose kid was murdered simply because of that man’s political leanings, can he be trusted to give a fair shake to cases that he’s going to see?

 

 

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