Senate

Dems interrupt Kavanaugh hearing asking that it be adjourned

Democrats repeatedly interrupted the first day of Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation hearings on Tuesday, arguing the confirmation process should be delayed so they could review tens of thousands of documents related to Kavanaugh's long career in Washington.

Amid jeers from protesters of Kavanaugh in the hearing room - 22 of whom were taken out by security within an hour - Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) rejected requests by Democrats for an adjournment, arguing the minority was simply trying to delay the proceedings.

"I shouldn't have to explain to you, we're having a hearing. It's out of order," Grassley told the committee. The 84-year-old senator was at times drowned out by protestors or had to raise his voice to be heard in the packed committee room.

Democrats argued that they hadn't had time to review the more than 42,000 pages of additional documents from Kavanaugh's earlier career that were handed over to the committee on Monday, and that the committee had ignored crucial parts of Kavanaugh's White House record.

Grassley maintained that "senators have had more than enough time ... to adequately access Judge Kavanaugh's qualifications."

And Republicans expressed frustration with Democratic demands, arguing they were out of order for interrupting the proceedings. 

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the committee hearing was being run by "mob rule" and that if senators were in an actual courtroom, Democrats would be "held in contempt."

"This whole process is supposed to be a civil one where people get to ask questions and we get to get answers," he said.

Democrats began interrupting the committee chairman almost as soon as he started giving his opening statement.

Democrats were aided by protestors in the hearing audience who continued to interrupt Grassley as he tried to move forward or respond to Democrats.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) started the Democratic protests, saying that the senators could not "possibly move forward" given the late hand-over of documents. 

"We are rushing through this process in a way that's unnecessary," argued Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called the committee's handling of the documents a "charade" and a "mockery" to the chamber.

"If we cannot be recognized I move to adjourn," Blumenthal said. "We have been denied real access to the documents we need."

The committee received an additional 42,000 pages of documents related to Kavanaugh's past work for the George W. Bush administration the night before the hearing. Grassley argued that his staff had already read the 42,000 pages handed over to the committee Monday on a "committee confidential" basis and there was "no reason to delay the hearing."

"We have received and read every page of Judge Kavanaugh's extensive record," Grassley said.

Grassley also argued that the hearing was not an executive session and so would not hold a vote on adjourning the committee hearing. 

But Blumenthal urged the committee to go into executive session and warned if they did not have a vote, the committee's handling of Kavanaugh's nomination "will be tainted and stained forever."

Democrats have argued that a vote on Kavanaugh's nomination should be delayed until his extensive record can be reviewed, with documents from Kavanaugh's time as a White House lawyer during the Bush administration trickling in.

Senators have received hundreds of thousands of pages from a legal team working for Bush. The National Archives is also reviewing documents from Kavanaugh's work as a White House lawyer, but isn't expected to be able to finish its work until the end of October. Republicans want to confirm Kavanaugh this month.

Republicans have refused to request documents from Kavanaugh's three-year period as staff secretary despite arguments from Democrats that they are crucial to understanding his thoughts on issues like torture and interrogation.

Democrats argue the three-year period is crucial to understanding Kavanaugh's thoughts on issues like torture and interrogation.

"The fact that we can't take a few days or weeks to have a complete review of Judge Kavanaugh's record is unfair to the American people," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) argued. 

But Republicans appeared to quickly lose patience with the tactics, which ate up more than an hour of the committee's hearing on Tuesday.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) questioned Grassley on the "ground rules" of the hearings and whether senators would be allowed to continue to interrupt each other. 

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), meanwhile, asked if the Democratic tactics were part of a caucus-wide strategy to interrupt Kavanaugh's hearing or if they were genuinely concerned about getting Kavanaugh's documents. Tillis asked if any of the members on the committee strategized over the weekend to protest the hearings before the additional documents were released.

Democrats were not the only ones interrupting the hearing. Protesters, who were present in the audience to criticize Kavanaugh, spoke over Grassley's response to Democrats.

"Senators, we demand you vote no," one yelled.

"This should be an impeachment proceeding and not a confirmation hearing," one protester said.

Another urged senators to "be a hero and cancel this year."

At least 22 protesters were taken out of the room and arrested, according to Capitol Police. 

Lydia Wheeler contributed to this report that was last updated at 11:09 a.m.

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