“Once again, the Left has taken a swing at one of the most qualified SCOTUS nominees in history. Once again, it has missed.”
The New York Times Runs a Sloppy, Specious Democratic Hit on Brett Kavanaugh
By David French
August 17, 2018
What does the word “primarily” mean? If you look it up in a dictionary, the definition is plain enough. Merriam-Webster says it means “for the most part.” Dictionary.com’s definition is even more helpful, providing a string of synonyms: “essentially; mostly; chiefly; principally.”
Why does this matter? Because in the desperate effort to find something to derail the Brett Kavanaugh nomination, Democrats have moved from credit cards and Nationals tickets to his testimony about the extent of his involvement in the early-2000s nomination of Judge Charles Pickering to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Later, when Senate Democrats questioned Kavanaugh about his knowledge of a specific event in the Pickering fight during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing for the D.C. Circuit, he said, “This was not one of the judicial nominees that I was primarily handling.”
In written testimony, he indicated that he “participated in discussions and meetings concerning all of the president’s judicial nominees” but did not highlight his work for Pickering.
Democrats are now seizing on this testimony, and they’ve taken their complaint to the New York Times. The claim? That Kavanaugh may have misled the Senate, a serious charge…
So, what’s the support for this claim? A series of emails that the Times characterizes like this:
Many of the emails showing glimpses of Judge Kavanaugh’s involvement with the Pickering nomination were minor, such as circulating articles or remarks by public officials related to him.
As someone who’s spent more than my fair share of time on large teams of lawyers, I find that Kavanaugh’s work bears all the hallmarks of a minor player. Leaders aren’t routinely forwarding news clippings and booking rooms.
Also note that there is no indication at all that the Times reached out to one of the key players in this whole drama: Judge Pickering. The Times got comment from Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein, but not from a key witness.
So I picked up the phone and called him.
First, he told me that no one from the Times tried to contact him before it ran with the story. Next, he told me that he hadn’t even heard of Brett Kavanaugh until Kavanaugh was nominated for the D.C. Circuit. He met with various lawyers at the White House, but he doesn’t remember meeting or interacting with Kavanaugh even once.
The bottom line is that Brett Kavanaugh may well be one of the most qualified jurists ever nominated for the High Court. He’s also previously vetted, with one of the largest paper trails of any nominee in recent memory. And this is the controversy of the day?
Words mean things. “Primarily handling” does not mean “somewhat involved in.” The judge at the center of the Bush-era storm doesn’t even remember Kavanaugh. The email trail shows that he was a bit player in a much larger drama. The rest of the available evidence confirms that he did not mislead the Senate. Once again, the Democrats have taken their swing at an outstanding nominee. Once again, they’ve missed.