Republicans warn Dems not to discuss confidential material at Kavanaugh hearing

Republicans warn Dems not to discuss confidential material at Kavanaugh hearing
© Greg Nash

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee urged Democrats on the panel Friday not to discuss confidential materials during the committee's upcoming confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

In a letter to minority members on the panel, committee Republicans with the exception of Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens Overnight Health Care: Cigarette smoking rates at new low | Spread of vaping illness slowing | Dems in Congress push to block Trump abortion rule MORE (R-Iowa) warned Democrats against discussing documents marked "committee confidential" outside of the closed portion of Kavanaugh's hearing.

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Breaching such an arrangement, the Republican senators warned, would only impede the committee's ability to obtain confidential documents from the executive branch in the future.

"We want to emphasize that every Member is free to discuss any document designated Committee Confidential during the closed session of Judge Kavanaugh's hearing," the senators wrote.

"Failing to abide by that limitation would breach the conditions under which this Committee received the documents and would almost certainly destroy this  Committee's ability to ever again obtain the sort of broad access to Executive Branch documents that we have had for this nomination," they added.

Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee are set to begin on Tuesday, despite a letter last week from every Democrat on the committee urging Grassley to delay the hearings.

Democrats pushed for a delay over an admission from President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation MORE's former longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, that the president was involved in a hush money scheme before the 2016 election aimed at buying the silence of two women who claimed they had affairs with Trump in 2006.

"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," Democratic senators wrote last Friday.

A number of high-profile witnesses, including former White House counsel John Dean, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanWhy Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump GOP lawmakers fear Trump becoming too consumed by impeachment fight MORE (R-Ohio) are expected to testify at Kavanaugh's hearing.

Kavanaugh was nominated in July to succeed retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. If confirmed, he would become Trump's second nominee to be installed on the Supreme Court, after Justice Neil Gorsuch.