Senate Democrats: Postpone Kavanaugh hearing

Senate Democrats: Postpone Kavanaugh hearing
© Greg Nash

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are stepping up their demand for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's hearing to be postponed, "given the possibility of criminal wrongdoing" by President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE

The 10 Democrats on the committee on Friday sent a letter to Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces White House denies exploring payroll tax cut to offset worsening economy Schumer joins Pelosi in opposition to post-Brexit trade deal that risks Northern Ireland accord MORE (R-Iowa), the panel's chairman, asking him to delay the hearing, which is scheduled to start on Sept. 4, and convene a meeting to discuss how to reach a "bipartisan, fair, and transparent process." 

"Given the possibility of criminal wrongdoing by the President, doubts that Judge Kavanaugh believes a president can even be investigated, and the unprecedented lack of transparency regarding this nominee’s record, we should not move forward with hearings on September 4th," the Democratic senators wrote.  

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The formal demand to Grassley comes days after Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortEx-Trump campaign aide Rick Gates testifies against former Obama counsel Gregory Craig Trial of ex-Obama White House counsel suddenly postponed Top Mueller probe prosecutor to join Georgetown Law as lecturer MORE, Trump's former campaign chairman, was found guilty on eight charges of bank and tax fraud and the president's former lawyer Michael Cohen implicated Trump as an unnamed co-conspirator in his guilty plea on fraud and campaign finance law charges.

Trump has denied wrongdoing.  

"The President’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight criminal counts and stated, under oath, that the President directed him to commit a federal crime by violating campaign finance law. This was done in the run-up to the election, with the intent of influencing the outcome," Democrats wrote. 

They added that Kavanaugh, if confirmed, may "be called upon to decide whether this President should face investigation or possible indictment for criminal wrongdoing."

Democrats note in the letter that they are wanting to call a "special meeting" to discuss Kavanaugh's nomination under a Senate rule that allows them to request a committee meeting be held. 

If Grassley doesn't comply with the request within three days, Democrats would be able to force a meeting, according to the rule, if they can get a majority of the committee to sign on to their request for a meeting.  

Democratic members of the committee, as well as Senate Democratic leadership, began calling for Kavanaugh's hearing to be delayed earlier this week. 

In addition to the news on Cohen and Manafort, Democrats remain frustrated with the process for obtaining documents on Kavanaugh's time in the George W. Bush White House. 

Democrats want documents tied to Kavanaugh's work as a staff secretary, which they argue would shed light on his thinking on issues like torture or surveillance. Republicans have only requested documents from Kavanaugh's work as a White House lawyer. 

Democrats are also enraged that a lawyer for Bush, and not the National Archives, has been providing the committee with documents from Kavanaugh's White House work. The National Archives is expected to hand over paperwork from the same time period but has warned it won't be able to fulfill the GOP request until late October. 

"With all that is at stake, the Senate has a lot more work to do in order to fulfill our constitutional advice-and-consent obligation. ... Importantly, there is no legitimate reason for the Senate to rush this nomination and fail to perform its constitutional duty," Democrats said. 

But Democrats are unlikely to be successful in their bid to delay the hearing. 

Grassley and his staff have repeatedly shot down the request, arguing that Democrats are just trying to stall Trump's Supreme Court pick. 

"I’m not going to delay Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing," Grassley said at a committee hearing on Thursday.