Senate Republicans have learned their lesson from the horror show that was the Kavanaugh hearings by using the current recess as a chance to ram through some of President Trump’s judicial nominees.
According to The Huffington Post, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has held two hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week even though most senators were absent for the sake of campaigning for the midterms. Rather comically, not even Grassley attended the hearings and instead permitted Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) to the chair the hearings.
“Not a single Democrat could attend either hearing,” lamented HuffPo. “Only one other Republican, Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), was present. That means, between those two hearings, that three of Trump’s circuit court nominees and seven of his district court nominees sailed through without any real questions.”
Given that President Trump’s last judicial nominee was asked by several Democratic senators about flatulence referenced in his high school yearbook, it is highly dubious to say that “real questions” would have been asked of the latest nominee had Democrats been present. The move is a strategic one: ram the nominee through the sham of a committee hearing and vote on it once the midterms conclude.
Even though the Democrats’ treatment of Brett Kavanaugh created a cesspool of toxicity on Capitol Hill, HuffPo laments that the GOP’s tactics of ramming through Trump’s nominees will intensify the situation.
“Today’s hearing and last week’s were jokes,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor. “No Democratic senators and two GOP senators and no real questions asked?”
At the opening of the hearings last week, Sen. Kennedy announced that Grassley received a statement from the Democratic ranking member Sen. Feinstein giving permission to proceed with the hearings.
“The ranking member not only agreed to hold hearings on Oct. 10, Oct. 17 and Oct. 24, but she also specifically agreed not to object to the timing of these hearings,” Kennedy said.
A recent statement from Feinstein’s office — the same office that leaked Christine Blasey Ford’s letter accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault 36 years ago to the media — says that never happened.
“We were scheduled to be in session at that point,” Feinstein spokesman Tom Mentzer told HuffPo. “At no time was there an agreement to do this during recess.”
Every Democratic senator on the committee apparently signed a letter to Grassley urging him to postpone any hearings until after the elections. Keep in mind these are the same senators that called for a delay on Kavanaugh’s hearing on day 1.
“Holding hearings during a recess, when members cannot attend, fails to meet our constitutional advice-and-consent obligations,” their October 15 letter says. “We respectfully request these hearings be postponed until after the recess.”
Grassley spokesman Taylor Foy said Wednesday that the hearing was scheduled weeks ago and that the chairman had sent a letter to committee Democrats expressing dissatisfaction with the postponement.
“It would be unfair to nominees to change the schedule at the last minute after they’ve made their travel arrangements to Washington for their hearing,” said Foy.