In one of the most remarkable exchanges of Wednesday’s confirmation hearing for Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris grilled the nominee about whether he had ever discussed the Robert Mueller Russia investigation with a lawyer who represents Trump, as CNN reported.
The line of questioning appeared to catch Kavanaugh off-guard and raised questions over whether Harris has any information about who Kavanaugh had spoken with. Kavanaugh did not answer Harris’ questions directly and claimed that he could not remember if he had discussed the Mueller investigation with any lawyer working for Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s original lawyer in the Russia investigation who, as Inquisitr reported, still represents Trump in a defamation lawsuit brought by former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos.
But Harris did not specify why she asked Kavanaugh about his possible discussions with lawyers representing Trump regarding the Mueller investigation, as Talking Points Memo noted, saying, “Kavanaugh looked utterly confused by Harris’ line of questioning.”
A report by Politico late on Tuesday, however, gave a possible indication of what may have motivated Harris’ questions.
“The only explanation for the back-and-forth came from a Democratic aide speaking on condition of anonymity, who said Wednesday night that some in the party ‘have reason to believe that a conversation happened and are continuing to pursue it,'” Politico reported.
Watch the full video of Harris’s cross-examination of Kavanaugh, courtesy of C-Span, below.
Harris’ line of questioning is crucial to Kavanaugh’s fate in the hearings because, legal experts say, if Kavanaugh has discussed the Russia investigation with Trump’s own lawyers, he would be forced to recuse himself from any cases that come before the court that stem from the Mueller probe — or could even lead to Kavanaugh being impeached from the court — as Harvard University constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe explained on his Twitter account.
“I don’t say this lightly, but claiming to have forgotten something in order to win confirmation when the nominee can be shown not to have forgotten becomes an impeachable offense and a basis for removing that nominee after confirmation,” Tribe wrote.
“This @KamalaHarris cross-X is so important because if Judge Kavanaugh did in fact discuss the Mueller probe with Trump’s personal attorney’s firm, he has NO CHOICE but to recuse from all matters related to that probe. And his claim to have forgotten could be confirmation PERJURY.”
Kavanaugh has written of his beliefs that presidents are not subject to subpoena in criminal cases, and he has generally taken an expansive view of presidential powers and immunity from investigation, as Slate reported.
“He’s Trump’s Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card,” Maryland Democratic Senator Ben Cardin told The Baltimore Sun. “He has very strong views about a sitting president not being interfered with, with criminal charges or civil lawsuits. Trump saw Kavanaugh as his Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card, and he saw that it was too good to pass up.”
But if Kavanaugh was forced to recuse himself from cases related to the Mueller investigation, he may no longer be able to serve as, in Cardin’s words, a “Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card.”