- There was a tense exchange on Wednesday night between Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Brett Kavanaugh during the second day of his Senate confirmation hearings.
- Harris asked Kavanaugh whether he had ever discussed the special counsel Robert Mueller or the Russia investigation with anyone at the law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres.
- Marc Kasowitz, a partner at the firm, is one of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyers.
- Kavanaugh appeared puzzled by the question and asked Harris if she was referring to a specific person.
- Harris seemed unconvinced by Kavanaugh’s reaction. “I think you’re thinking of someone and you don’t want to tell us,” she said.
Sen. Kamala Harris of California questioned the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh about the Russia investigation on the second day of his Senate confirmation hearings on Wednesday.
During one tense exchange, Harris asked Kavanaugh whether he had ever discussed the special counsel Robert Mueller or the Russia investigation with anyone at the law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres. Marc Kasowitz, a partner at the firm, is one of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyers.
Mueller is leading the inquiry into Russia’s influence in the 2016 US presidential election, whether the Trump campaign was involved, and whether Trump obstructed justice during the investigation.
Harris asked Kavanaugh: “Have you had any conversation about Robert Mueller or his investigation with anyone at that firm? Yes or no?”
“Is there a person you’re talking about?” Kavanaugh said.
“I’m asking you a very direct question: Yes or no?” Harris said.
“I’m not sure I know everyone who works at that law firm,” Kavanaugh replied.
Harris’ question appeared to puzzle the Supreme Court nominee, who paused for long periods before asking the California senator if she wanted to know whether he spoke with a specific person at the firm.
“I think you’re thinking of someone and you don’t want to tell us,” Harris said. She later rephrased her question: “Did you speak with anyone at that law firm about Bob Mueller’s investigation?”
“I’m not remembering anything like that, but I want to know a roster of people, and I want to know more,” Kavanaugh said.
The exchange raised some eyebrows in part because Kavanaugh repeatedly asked Harris to clarify her yes-or-no question, but also because Harris is part of a group of Democrats who are wary of Kavanaugh’s views on matters that could be pertinent to Trump when the Russia investigation ends, including the question of whether a sitting president can be indicted.
The Justice Department has said on two separate occasions, in 1973 and in 2000, that the president cannot be charged with a crime while in office. The Supreme Court would have to rule on that question to settle the matter.
In previous writings, Kavanaugh has advocated more latitude within the executive branch. An analysis from The Washington Post found that this could mean Kavanaugh believes existing law is too restrictive for the office of the president.
Those views could inform which side Kavanaugh, should he become a Supreme Court justice, might take if the presidential-indictment question reaches the court.
He made clear earlier Wednesday that he believes that “no one is above the law.”
Watch the Harris-Kavanaugh exchange below:
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