October 04, 2018

VIDEO: Udall Speaks Against Kavanaugh Supreme Court Nomination on Senate Floor

Says this nomination will shape the course of American law and lives for decades

Udall: “Women in New Mexico and around the country are watching”

VIDEO: Udall Speaks Against Kavanaugh Supreme Court Nomination on Senate Floor 

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall spoke on the Senate floor against the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Udall discussed his opposition to Kavanaugh, citing the troubling circumstances surrounding Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, including the deeply disturbing allegations of sexual misconduct made against Judge Kavanaugh and the insufficient investigation into those allegations. Udall also cited Kavanaugh’s record and his far-right judicial philosophy, which Udall said would make the court an even greater ally of corporations and the one percent -- and against working New Mexicans and Native Americans.

Udall began, “I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.”

Udall thanked Dr. Ford for coming forward to share her very credible story with the American public, saying, “At its core, sexual assault is a crime of power. Dr. Ford has confronted some of the most powerful in our nation and told the truth. I thank her for her courage in coming forward. And for empowering other survivors to do the same.”

“And women in New Mexico and around the country are watching,” Udall continued. 

Udall expressed concern over the ‘deeply flawed’ nomination process, saying, “Everything about the nomination process for this nominee has been deeply flawed. From the President outsourcing the nomination to the Federalist Society, to the Majority Leader violating his own new ‘rule’ to delay consideration of a Supreme Court nominee until after an upcoming election, to a highly partisan lawyer screening Judge Kavanaugh’s documents for public disclosure instead of the non-partisan National Archives staff, to the Judiciary Chair’s rush to hearing even though only 7 percent of Judge Kavanaugh’s record is in the public domain.”  

He also pointed to Kavanaugh’s misleading testimony in a supplemental hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, “Evidence of excessive drinking and inappropriate behavior as a teenager and young adult is not disqualifying in and of itself. But misleading Congress and the American people about it is.”

“The FBI investigation was not allowed to be a real investigation,” he continued. “And given what is in the public record—but kept away from the FBI—it by no means exonerates Judge Kavanaugh. Without a real investigation, the cloud of credible allegations remains.”

Udall emphasized the serious consequences of elevating Judge Kavanaugh to the highest court in the land for New Mexicans and Americans, saying, “On the merits -- this nominee simply does not represent mainstream judicial thought. He is on the extreme edge. I have no confidence this nominee will protect minority rights – and the rights of Native peoples in particular. Or will uphold voting rights, strike down gerrymandered voting districts that undermine the principle of one person – one vote, or rein in dark money that erodes our democracy.”

“This nomination will shape the course of the Supreme Court – and American law and lives -- for decades,” Udall continued. “We must have a nominee who has been fully vetted.  Who does not stand credibly accused of sexual assault.  Whose honesty before the Senate and American people cannot be questioned.  Whose judicial record fits within mainstream jurisprudence.  And who believes that no one, not even the President, is above the law.” 

“Judge Kavanaugh is not that nominee,” Udall concluded

Below are Udall’s full remarks as prepared for delivery.

Mr./Madam President.  First, let me begin by saying this: I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.  

Her raw courage coming forward — will change the national culture and discussion.  She has given voice to millions of women – and men – who are survivors of sexual assault.  Who were afraid to tell their stories.  Who felt powerless.   

Some of these women have contacted my office with their own stories.  I have read them.  And they are heart-wrenching. 

At its core, sexual assault is a crime of power.  Dr. Ford has confronted some of the most powerful in our nation and told the truth.  I thank her for her courage in coming forward.  And for empowering other survivors to do the same. 

M/M President- 

At this point, with so much unknown, there are serious consequences to elevating Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. 

We need to continue our search for truth about this nominee and his record. And hopefully, we can do that in a bipartisan way. 

Yet -- everything about the nomination process for this nominee has been deeply flawed. From the President outsourcing the nomination to the Federalist Society, to the Majority Leader violating his own new “rule” to delay consideration of a Supreme Court nominee until after an upcoming election,  to a highly partisan lawyer screening Judge Kavanaugh’s documents for public disclosure instead of the non-partisan National Archives staff, to the Judiciary Chair’s rush to hearing even though only 7 percent of Judge Kavanaugh’s record is in the public domain. 

And finally -- and most disturbing: the President and the Majority’s inexcusable treatment of the brave women who have come forward with allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against the nominee. 

The Republican leaders claim to want to hear the allegations of sexual assault has been nothing but a cynical show for public consumption. 

The MeToo Movement forced them to open the floor to Dr. Ford – but her testimony was never really going to matter to President Trump and Republican leadership. 

The Majority Leader made that clear when he bragged to an audience of the religious right before her the hearing that, “In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court.” 

Republican leaders question why the allegations hadn’t come forward sooner -- but the reasons why survivors of sexual assault often don’t come forward is well documented and well understood. 

And they did everything they could to undermine getting to the truth of Dr. Ford’s allegations – from refusing to honor her request for an FBI investigation prior to her hearing.

To severely limiting the Democrats’ time for questions of Judge Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  To refusing to call other key witnesses -- like Mark Judge, Deborah Ramirez, and others – and put them under oath.  

And – it is absolutely stunning that all 11 Republicans on the Committee abdicated their responsibilities – and ducked public scrutiny – by bringing in a female prosecutor to do their job and question Dr. Ford.  It’s just plain political cowardice. 

And women in New Mexico and around the country are watching.

M/M President.  Again-- After hearing her testimony, and reviewing the record, I believe Dr. Ford.  

It’s worth noting that no Republican Senator has said she is not credible.  Not a single one. 

The Majority Whip stated “I find no reason to find her not credible.”  The President found her testimony “very compelling,” that she was a “very credible witness.” 

Although – true to form – the President changed political course, and insulted and mocked her in front of a laughing crowd and television cameras.  Yet another shameful new low for the President’s treatment of women.

Dr. Ford’s testimony was all the more compelling because she was able to expertly explain how the memory of the assault is seared in her hippocampus by neurotransmitters released in response to the attack.  Her memory of her assailant is fully intact.  

It insults Dr. Ford – and survivors generally to say -- like Republicans have -- that you believe “something happened to her,” but that it wasn’t Brett Kavanaugh. 

Dr. Ford is not “mixed up.”

And contrary to what the Republicans would tell you – there is strong corroborating evidence behind her allegations: years before this nomination, she had told her husband, therapist, and friends of the attack.  And her polygraph examination supports her truthfulness.  

Her story even matches an entry in Judge Kavanaugh’s calendar in a number of ways, identifying the attendees she would have no reason to know.

There is a narrow window where it’s possible that both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh are telling the truth. 

And, that is -- if Judge Kavanaugh does not remember it, as a result of his consumption of alcohol that evening.

But Judge Kavanaugh’s performance during the supplemental hearing – while loud and angry – was not convincing.

You can’t find Dr. Ford’ testimony “credible” and -- at the same time – push to put Judge Kavanaugh on the Court.  The burden of proof for a lifetime appointment to our highest court is not “beyond reasonable doubt.”  

The Senate and the American people must have a high degree of certainty there was no sexual assault and that the nominee didn’t lie about it under oath.  We have no certainty on either count. 

The supplemental hearing brought Judge Kavanaugh’s overall credibility even further into question.  While he denied reports of heavy alcohol use during high school and college, there are abundant reports in the press, and statements from many eyewitnesses to the contrary.  Numerous acquaintances – even friends– have come forward with information that he often drank to excess during these years. 

His own yearbook quotes allude to – brag about -- heavy drinking and exploits with girls.

With all these accounts of heavy drinking – from an array of different, credible sources who have nothing to gain by coming forward -- it is hard believe there’s no truth to them. 

Evidence of excessive drinking and inappropriate behavior as a teenager and young adult is not disqualifying in and of itself.  

But misleading Congress and the American people about it is.

Most troubling is that there was already evidence before us that Judge Kavanaugh has not been fully truthful.   

We know that when Judge Kavanaugh worked as White House lawyer under President George W. Bush, Senate Republican Judiciary staff stole confidential information from Democratic Senators and staff – and gave some of that stolen information to him. 

Judge Kavanaugh denied under oath that he knew the information was stolen.  But – if you read the email correspondence – it’s nearly impossible to believe that a sophisticated political operative – like Brett Kavanaugh was – would not have understood that the information had been obtained surreptitiously. 

There are also valid concerns that Judge Kavanaugh misrepresented during his 2004 confirmation hearing about his involvement with the George W. Bush torture policy.  And with certain judicial nominations he handled as White House counsel.  

His sworn testimony -- in 2004 and the two recent hearings -- leave me highly skeptical that Judge Kavanaugh has told the whole truth and nothing but the truth before Congress.  I cannot support a nominee to the Supreme Court without a high degree of certainty that he or she has been 100 percent honest under oath.  The integrity and reputation of the Supreme Court demand nothing less. 

The rushed Judiciary hearing with Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh was designed to appease, not to make sure the American people had all the facts. 

Senator Flake was right to stop the process and call for an FBI investigation.  He is right that this nomination is tearing the country apart. 

The American people needed to know the truth.  All relevant evidence should have been gathered and put before us. 

Senator Flake is a friend, and I commend him for standing up for what he thought was right. 

But an artificially limited FBI investigation will do nothing to bring this country together. 

Justice could have only been served with a full and thorough investigation – with the FBI allowed to do their job as they know how to do it. 

But, with results of the FBI investigation in, it’s clear that the President -- with the Senate leadership in full support -- imposed arbitrary limits on the scope and length of the investigation. 

Dr. Ford has not been spoken to.  Her corroborating witnesses were not contacted. Her corroborating documents not reviewed.  

There was no meaningful inquiry whether Judge Kavanaugh misrepresented his past alcohol use – which also corroborates Dr. Ford’s story.

Up to 40 witnesses tried to come forward, but FBI agents did not contact or interview them.  While we can all read their statements in the newspapers, their information won’t form part of the FBI investigation record.  

There has been no bipartisan briefing where Senators can ask the FBI leaders about the adequacy of the investigation.

The FBI investigation was not allowed to be a real investigation.  And given what is in the public record—but kept away from the FBI—it by no means exonerates Judge Kavanaugh.  Without a real investigation, the cloud of credible allegations remains.

The President and Republicans leaders were simply not on a search for truth.  Only a mad dash to get Judge Kavanaugh confirmed at any cost to the country.  

Folks, it is 2018.  We are 27 years beyond the Clarence Thomas hearings.  Yet, credible claims of sexual assault against a nominee to the Supreme Court are not taken seriously by the President of the United States or Republicans in the United States Senate.  

The roughshod process orchestrated by the Senate majority and the President delegitimizes the claims of woman subject to sexual harassment and sexual assault.  And it only serves to drive survivors underground. 

And the kangaroo court type process orchestrated by the Senate majority and the President delegitimizes the Supreme Court.  And will for decades to come. 

More Americans oppose this nomination than support it.  If Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed --without a clear understanding of his past -- and whether he’s lied to the American people about it -- his appointment will be tainted for as long as he sits on the bench of the highest court in the land.  And history will not kindly judge those who voted to put him there.

During the supplemental hearing, Judge Kavanaugh showed himself as partisan, belligerent, even paranoid, and lacking in judicial temperament.  He rudely shot back at Senators asking them about their drinking habits.  He accused members of the minority of misdeeds for which he had no evidence.  He blamed “revenge” by the Clintons for the predicament he is in.  

He lacked self-control, dignity, and the temperament of a Supreme Court Justice.  His partisanship and lack of political independence were on full display. 

I have never seen a nominee to a federal court – let alone the Supreme Court – behave in such an injudicious manner before the Senate.  Under pressure, Judge Kavanaugh did not show himself worthy to appointment to the highest court.    

This is not a partisan conspiracy – as Judge Kavanaugh claimed.  We saw no such allegations for Judge Gorsuch’s nomination -- a judicial candidate who shares a similar judicial philosophy to Judge Kavanaugh and, coincidentally, went to the same high school.

There were no unsavory allegations against Judge Scalia or Judge Alito -- two judges that most Democrats vociferously opposed based on their right-wing, pro-dark money ideology.

Elevation to the Supreme Court for a lifetime appointment is not a right.  It is a privilege.  And while the Republicans’ take great umbrage that Judge Kavanaugh’s reputation is at stake – the fact is we have before us credible allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct – and justice demands that he be called to answer those allegations.  He should not get a pass.

M/M President, I’ve reviewed Judge Kavanaugh’s decisions, writings, and speeches.  All his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The meager set of documents made available from when he served as a White House lawyer and as part of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation. 

On the merits -- this nominee simply does not represent mainstream judicial thought.  He is on the extreme edge. 

But the American people want a justice whose judicial philosophy falls within established parameters.  A justice who is not on the far end of the ideological spectrum.  Who will not put his or her personal beliefs before the text of the statute or constitutional provision at issue.  

Even before the allegations of sexual assault and misconduct, the American people opposed this nomination in unprecedented numbers.

I – like the American people -- have no confidence this nominee will uphold our rights of privacy – a woman’s right to choose and each individual’s right to marry whomever they want. 

I have no confidence this nominee will uphold American’s rights to health care, consumers’ rights to a fair deal, or laws that protect our environment and combat climate change.  

I have no confidence this nominee will protect minority rights – and the rights of Native peoples in particular.  Or will uphold voting rights, strike down gerrymandered voting districts that undermine the principle of one person – one vote, or rein in dark money that erodes our democracy. 

And as the nation faces the distinct possibility that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation will find evidence that the President or his campaign conspired with Russia to undermine the 2016 presidential election, evidence that the President obstructed the Special Counsel’s investigation, or evidence of other crimes – I have absolutely no confidence that this nominee will hold the President to account if called to do so.

Judge Kavanaugh is on record that, as a matter of policy, he believes a sitting president should be immune from criminal investigation while in office -- no matter the crime. 

And he has refused to tell the Senate and the American people whether he believes that – as a matter of constitutional law – a sitting president may be investigated and indicted.   

I, for one, believe that under the Constitution – if a President commits a crime – the rule of law still stands . . . that the Constitution gives no immunity to a president who is a criminal. 

This nomination will shape the course of the Supreme Court – and American law and lives -- for decades.  We must have a nominee who has been fully vetted. 

Who does not stand credibly accused of sexual assault.  Whose honesty before the Senate and American people cannot be questioned.  Whose judicial record fits within mainstream jurisprudence.  And who believes that no one, not even the President, is above the law.  

Judge Kavanaugh is not that nominee.