Kavanaugh returns questionnaire to Senate panel

Kavanaugh returns questionnaire to Senate panel
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has returned a questionnaire to the Senate Judiciary Committee, bringing him closer to a scheduled confirmation hearing.

Kavanaugh returned a more than 100-page questionnaire dealing with his professional background, legal career and published writings to the Judiciary Committee on Friday night, according to a release from the panel.

The accompanying appendices include hundreds of pages of speeches, writings and public statements that Kavanaugh has given over decades.

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The Trump judicial pick responded in the negative when asked on the forms if anyone in the president's office, the Justice Department, presidential campaign team or transition or Senate staff discussed with him "any currently pending or specific case, legal issue, or question in a manner that could reasonably be interpreted as seeking any express or implied assurances concerning your position on such case, issue, or question."

Kavanaugh, a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and former associate White House counsel and staff secretary under former President George W. Bush, also provided details on the days leading up to his Supreme Court nomination by Trump on July 9.

He wrote that White House counsel Don McGahn called him on the afternoon of June 27, the day that Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. McGahn and Kavanaugh met two days later before Kavanaugh interviewed with Trump on July 2, he wrote.

The nominee revealed that he spoke again with Trump on the morning of July 8, the day before he was unveiled as the president's pick for the high court, and met with him and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration Trump dismisses Ann Coulter after criticism: 'I hardly know her' The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight MORE at the White House later that evening. 

"During that meeting, the President offered me the nomination, and I accepted," he wrote.

In the questionnaire and accompanying appendix, Kavanaugh also identified times when he has been forced to recuse himself, such as cases where he was named a defendant in a lawsuit, cases touching on issues or individuals from his time in government or matters involving his time in private practice.

"I am unable to reconstruct with sufficient certainty the reasons for recusals in all cases," Kavanaugh wrote, explaining that the D.C. Circuit Court does not require judges to list their reasons for recusal in certain cases and thus they were not captured in the court's data system.

However, Kavanaugh wrote broadly, "I recuse myself in cases as required by law, and I also recuse myself in my discretion consistent with the law from cases that present sufficient appearance issues. Those issues may not be sufficiently apparent to warrant recusal at the beginning of a case, and they may disappear before the end of a case."

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSanders expected to announce exploratory committee next week Bill Maher to Dems: ‘Let’s not eat our own’ in 2020 Dems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters MORE (D-N.J.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, on Friday joined several other Senate Democrats who have been calling for Kavanaugh to recuse himself in cases relating to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation.

“To avoid the prospect that President Trump could effectively choose a judge in his own case, I request that you pledge to recuse yourself from any cases related to the Special Counsel’s investigation and any that otherwise may immediately impact the President and his associates as it relates to the ongoing criminal investigation should you be confirmed,” Booker wrote in a letter to Kavanaugh.

The Judiciary Committee sent several forms to Kavanaugh last week requesting biographical information from the Supreme Court nominee and details on his published writings and statements, views on recusal as well as financial assets, among other items.

“I appreciate Judge Kavanaugh’s diligent and timely response to the broadest and most comprehensive questionnaire ever sent by this Committee," Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyHigh stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Grassley raises voice after McConnell interrupts Senate speech MORE (R-Iowa) said in a statement Saturday.

Grassley said the "voluminous materials" provided to the panel "will provide us a very good understanding of Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications and legal thinking – including how Judge Kavanaugh goes about finding, interpreting, and applying the law."

"I look forward to reviewing this and other materials, along with hearing from Judge Kavanaugh and the other hearing witnesses, as a part of the Committee’s fair, thorough and efficient vetting process,” Grassley added.