Schumer Floor Remarks On The Need For A Thorough FBI Investigation Into The Allegations Regarding Judge Kavanaugh And Serious Concerns About Judge Kavanaugh’s CredibilityOctober 1, 2018
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor [at approx.. 3:23 p.m.] regarding on the need for a thorough FBI investigation into the allegations regarding Judge Kavanaugh and serious concerns about Judge Kavanaugh’s credibility. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Thank you, Mr. President. Now on Friday, Senators Flake and Collins and Murkowski, joined by Democratic Senators Coons, Klobuchar, and others, made the only fair move – to demand the FBI investigate the credible allegations of sexual misconduct by Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
It was the right thing to do, fair to both Dr. Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. For too long, Republicans have rushed this process forward and likely would have rushed to a final vote if not for the prudent, bipartisan efforts of those senators to demand a full FBI investigation.
What’s important now is for the FBI investigation to be serious, impartial, and thorough. To ferret out the facts and do so quickly. That means interviewing all of the relevant witnesses and accepting corroborating accounts when they come forward. It also means following up on any leads that emerge from the process of the investigation. The FBI has ample resources to do this within the one-week period requested by the members of the Judiciary Committee. No one is asking it take longer than a week, but everyone is asking it be done thoroughly and completely within that week.
There is concern that the White House has placed severe constraints on the investigation, and until today, the president tried to dodge that responsibility. The White House was even saying that the Senate is somehow responsible for the scope of the investigation. Let me be clear: the Senate has no control over the scope of an FBI investigation of this sort, only the White House.
Now, a few hours ago, I was glad to hear President Trump say today that he would like to see Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh interviewed by the FBI as a part of this investigation and that the FBI should be able to interview anyone appropriate. We have to make sure now that those comments reflect what the White House has officially told the FBI.
Democratic senators, led by Ranking Member Feinstein, have asked the White House what parameters it’s giving to the FBI, but we haven’t yet received a reply. So we need an official document from the White House made public so the whole country knows what the scope is. We ask the president, if you are truly giving the FBI the ability to follow the facts wherever they lead, show us. Show us what White House Counsel Don McGahn has instructed the FBI.
Because prior to President Trump’s off-the-cuff comments in the Rose Garden, there were rumors that majority staff of the Judiciary Committee were drawing up limited interview lists for the FBI and otherwise circumscribing the investigation. Partisan staffers on the Judiciary Committee should not exercise any constraints over this investigation. Democratic staffers asked the Republican majority staff to get on the phone with Counsel McGahn to discuss what should be the parameters, and they were told ‘forget it.’ It’s the same partisan staff that has blocked documents, that has operated in a purely partisan way, that couldn’t come up with an agreement when these things have always been done in a bipartisan way. And so to let the partisan Senate staff on the Republican side dictate the terms of this investigation would be wrong. And ultimately, President Trump knows and Counsel McGahn knows – the buck stops with the White House. It is only they who can instruct the FBI. And now that the president has said that he wants a full investigation, that he wants both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh interviewed, we assume that will happen. But we want to make sure that Counsel McGahn tells the FBI just that. The Senate and the American people deserve to know what the scope is, because this investigation must be done in a manner that allows the public to have confidence in its findings.
Whether you are for or against Judge Kavanaugh going to the Supreme Court, it will only benefit the country if the investigation is regarded as fair, clear, and not constrained, particularly by partisan means. For that reason, we hope the FBI will be available to brief the Senate on the results of the investigation before a final floor vote. Democrats are not interested in delay for the sake of delay. This can all be completed quickly, but it must be done right.
Mr. President, we are a society based on the rule of law. It is therefore crucial the American people have faith in the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court. Our job as senators is to decide if someone has the intelligence, the temperament, the independence, and the credibility to earn the title of “justice” for a lifetime. Character matters. Character matters deeply.
Anyone who watched the Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday should have serious, if not disqualifying doubts about Judge Kavanaugh’s credibility and independence, qualities we should expect in any Supreme Court Justice.
First, let me address the nominee’s independence. After Dr. Blasey Ford’s courageous, polite, detailed, and credible testimony to the committee, Judge Kavanaugh embarked on a partisan screed, angrily implicating sitting U.S. Senators in a conspiratorial plot to destroy his nomination. He even had the temerity to label the recent allegations a part of some “revenge of the Clintons,” an absurd and shopworn boogeyman of partisan Republicans from the Gingrich era on forward.
And that was from Judge Kavanaugh’s prepared opening statement! When questioned, Judge Kavanaugh impugned the motives of sitting senators, rudely interrupting and dismissing questions in a way that I’ve never seen tolerated from a witness. Judge Kavanaugh asked a Democratic member of this chamber whether she had ever blacked out from drinking, an offensive question asked by a nominee who was there to provide answers, not evade answers by asking very nasty questions.
It was quite clear from Thursday’s testimony Judge Kavanaugh harbors deep, deep partisan resentments. That’s not the kind of justice we need on the Supreme Court.
I must say – this isn’t the first time I’ve thought that Judge Kavanaugh was too partisan. When he came before the Judiciary Committee in 2004 and 2006, I noted that he was involved in every major partisan legal fight of the Clinton and Bush eras, from Ken Starr to Bush v. Gore, from torture to signing statements to Manny Miranda’s theft of Democratic emails. I wondered then, as I do today, whether we should promote a loyal partisan warrior to a position that calls for independence and judiciousness.
Frankly, Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony was a stunning display of partisanship and recrimination that solidified my skepticism about his objectivity and independence. I understand these issues are emotional. I understand that his character was being questioned. But rather than providing sincere and measured testimony in his defense, which would have been far more effective, Judge Kavanaugh revealed that his worldview is skewed by a very partisan lens.
And let me address probably the most important question about Judge Kavanaugh: his credibility. President Trump has suggested that it doesn’t matter what someone did 36 years ago, in high school. Whatever view you take of that notion – I believe, given the seriousness of what Dr. Ford said, it should matter – but the question of Judge Kavanaugh’s credibility is one that weighs on us today, on his behavior right now. It’s not a question about what Judge Kavanaugh did as a 16 or 17 year-old, but what he’s said as a 53-year-old nominee to the Court.
The harsh fact of the matter is that we have mounting evidence that Judge Kavanaugh is just not credible. He has dissembled about the Bush administration’s policies on torture, the nominations of controversial judges, grand jury proceedings, and the theft of Democratic emails. Thursday’s hearing provided fresh examples of Judge Kavanaugh’s difficult relationship with the truth. Judge Kavanaugh gave answers about his yearbook page, supposed drinking games, and high school behavior that simply defy credulity. Judge Kavanaugh said that he “never” drank so much that he forgot events, a characterization that does not track with multiple descriptions made by many of high school and college classmates.
So the 64,000 dollar question is this: Is Judge Kavanaugh credible? Will Judge Kavanaugh say anything, deny anything, mislead about anything, to secure confirmation to the Supreme Court? Does he have the integrity, the independence, the credibility to do the job? Does Judge Kavanaugh deserve the promotion of a lifetime, for a lifetime? These very serious questions about Judge Kavanaugh’s state of mind and who he is today – not who he was in 1982 – should weigh on the conscience of every senator.
In my experience with Judge Kavanaugh, in 2004, 2006, and again throughout this process, I have been left with the impression that Judge Kavanaugh would dissemble, mislead, even prevaricate senators about everything from the momentous to the mundane, whatever it takes to cast his nomination in the most favorable light. Faced now with the gravest of allegations, and the sincere testimony by a courageous woman, I believe that the Senate should consider the issue of credibility to be front and center in deciding whether Judge Kavanaugh deserves a seat on the bench, a lifetime appointment to the most important court in the land.