EXECUTIVE SESSION; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 159
(Senate - September 26, 2018)

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[Pages S6313-S6316]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                           EXECUTIVE SESSION


                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the 
Senate will proceed to executive session and resume consideration of 
the following nomination, which the clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read the nomination of Peter A. Feldman, of the 
District of Columbia, to be a Commissioner of the Consumer Product 
Safety Commission for a term of seven years from October 27, 2019. 

                   Recognition of the Majority Leader

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The majority leader is recognized.

                     Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, tomorrow morning, the Senate and the 
American people will hear from Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine 
Blasey Ford under oath. We will hear sworn testimony from both of them 
regarding the allegation of 30-plus-year-old misconduct that Dr. Ford 
has raised.
  It goes without saying, but it bears repeating: Sexual assault is 
completely abhorrent. Everyone deserves to be safe. So I am glad Dr. 
Ford will be heard.
  I would like to particularly thank Chairman Grassley, who worked 
tirelessly to establish a fair process and a secure, comfortable 
setting for this to take place. He gave Dr. Ford the opportunity to 
testify in public or in private or to speak with investigators who 
would meet her anywhere she wished or to conduct the entire interview 
by phone. He has brought a patient professionalism to this process--one 
that stands in stark contrast to those on the other side of the aisle 
who self-describe as ``Spartacus'' and play to the television cameras. 
Dr. Ford will be heard, thanks to Chairman Grassley and despite the 
irresponsibility of Senate Democrats, who ignored her allegation for 
weeks and then discarded her request for confidentiality and leaked it 
to the press.
  Let me walk you through this again. The ranking Democrat on the 
Judiciary Committee received a letter from Dr. Ford all the way back in 
July in which she stated her allegation and asked for confidentiality. 
That was in July. The committee's thorough review of Judge Kavanaugh 
was just getting started. There was ample time to vet this allegation 
in a serious and bipartisan manner that would have maintained 
confidentiality and honored Dr. Ford's request for privacy.
  All the Democrats needed to do was go through proper channels and 
share the information with their Republican colleagues so the committee 
could tackle it together, but that is not what Senate Democrats did. 
This is the Democratic caucus whose leader, my friend the senior 
Senator from New York, said just hours after Judge Kavanaugh was 
nominated that he would ``oppose him with everything I've got.'' This 
was just hours after the nomination. This is the Democratic caucus of 
which several Members preemptively announced fill-in-the-blank 
opposition to any nominee before

[[Page S6314]]

Judge Kavanaugh had even been named. This is the Democratic caucus that 
spent all summer searching for reasons to delay, delay, delay this 
nomination. This was because there were not enough documents, because 
there were too many documents, because of unrelated headlines--you name 

  No, these Democratic colleagues did not treat Dr. Ford or her 
allegation with the seriousness and discretion she deserved. 
Apparently, they took no meaningful action for weeks with respect to 
her claim. Then, finally, at the eleventh hour, when its introduction 
was virtually certain to introduce further delay, they got it to the 
press. So much for Dr. Ford's request for confidentiality, I guess.
  What lessons can we draw from all of this? If you write to the Senate 
Democrats in complete confidence about an extremely sensitive matter, 
you will soon wind up a household name. If you are a public servant 
whose confirmation those on the far left happen to oppose because they 
dislike the fact that you will interpret the law and the Constitution 
according to what they mean rather than what those on the far left wish 
they would mean, they will not hesitate to weaponize uncorroborated 
allegations and drag your name and your family right through the mud. 
That is what these guys will do to you--uncorroborated allegations, 
which Judge Kavanaugh has denied repeatedly in the strongest terms in 
public and to the Senate investigators, all under penalty of felony.
  Let's not forget that Dr. Ford's account identifies three other 
supposed witnesses, and each of these individuals has denied 
participation in or recollection of any such event--also under penalty 
of felony in all cases. One of the alleged witnesses is a longtime 
friend of Dr. Ford's. She has stated not only that she does not recall 
any such party but that she doesn't even know Judge Kavanaugh. No 
corroboration. No supporting evidence before us. Just Dr. Ford's 
  By any normal standard of American justice, this is nowhere near 
enough to destroy someone's reputation or nullify one's career, but 
some of our colleagues are trying to move the goalposts.
  The junior Senator from Delaware asserted recently on television that 
it is Judge Kavanaugh who bears the burden of disproving these 
allegations. Let me say that again. The junior Senator from Delaware 
said Judge Kavanaugh bears the burden of disproving these allegations. 
Guilty until proven innocent--in our country?
  Similarly, the junior Senator from Hawaii has implied that Judge 
Kavanaugh does not deserve a presumption of innocence. The junior 
Senator from Hawaii has said that Judge Kavanaugh does not deserve a 
presumption of innocence because she does not agree with his judicial 
  Just yesterday, the Democratic leader said that because we aren't in 
a criminal courtroom, ``there's no presumption of innocence or guilt 
here when you have a nominee before you.'' In America, somebody is 
saying that? Well, it will not surprise you to know the Democrats 
haven't always taken that position.
  Back in 1991, when our friend Senator Joe Biden was chairman of the 
Judiciary Committee, he had this to say to Judge Clarence Thomas when 
the committee was evaluating an allegation against him.
  Joe Biden said:

       The presumption is with you. With me, the presumption is 
     with you, and in my opinion it should be with you until all 
     the evidence is in and people make a judgment.

  That was the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Joe Biden, during 
the Clarence Thomas proceeding.
  My colleagues would do well to remember this commonsense principle. 
After all, this is America. Every American understands the presumption 
of innocence.
  I am glad that Chairman Grassley, his staff, and committee 
investigators have worked so hard to clean up this mess and put 
together a fair process. I am encouraged by the committee's choice of 
Rachel Mitchell, a career prosecutor with decades of experience in 
sensitive investigations, who was recognized with an award by Arizona's 
then-Democratic Governor, Janet Napolitano, to lend expertise to this 
important process.
  It is time for Senators to hear from both Dr. Ford and Judge 
Kavanaugh under oath. Tomorrow, we will do just that. Then it will be 
time to vote.

                         Tribute to Tom Hawkins

  Now, Mr. President, on an entirely different matter, it is with great 
reluctance that I close by marking the recent departure of a trusted 
adviser, a loyal friend, and a true patriot from my leadership staff.
  Tom Hawkins served as my national security advisor for over a decade. 
Over that time, he became a familiar face to so many around the Senate. 
In fact, while I told my staff I was waiting for a quiet day to offer a 
fulsome tribute to Tom's service here on the floor, I have to admit I 
was really just hoping one of my colleagues would convince him to stick 
around so I wouldn't have to.
  Of course, for Tom, with his incredibly important portfolio and his 
diligence and dedication, there was really no such thing as a quiet 
day. Long after the lights went off here on the Senate floor, Tom was 
reviewing intelligence, conducting classified meetings, and making sure 
my colleagues and I were equipped to make serious decisions about our 
Nation's security and footing in the international system. It was 
impossible to walk away from a meeting with Tom and not grasp the 
serious, real-world consequences of our work. After all, he had lived 
  During his own decorated military career, Tom led marines in combat. 
He understood firsthand the price of freedom. This was clear from his 
very first days on my staff. From those early months, in the heat of 
negotiations over a new strategy for our involvement in Iraq, I never 
doubted that Tom was tirelessly committed to the brave men and women in 
uniform who continue to serve our Nation--so tirelessly, in fact, that 
traveling with Tom and our military personnel abroad was a lot like 
traveling with our dear, late friend, Chairman John McCain--cover a lot 
of ground, meet a lot of people, and sleep when you get back home. As 
Tom moves on from the Senate, I sincerely hope that he will take a 
break from his grueling pace.
  In fact, Tom, that is an order.
  I know Tom's wife, Jennifer, and his daughters, Emily and Abigail, 
will back me up on that one. Very few people will ever know the full 
extent of Tom's service and his sacrifice, but believe me--America is 
safer and more secure for his efforts, and in the Halls of this 
institution, which he served so faithfully for so long, he will be 
sorely missed. Never once--not one time--did Tom put his personal views 
ahead of my own or his personal interests ahead of the best interests 
of our country. He was always faithful to me, to this body, and to our 
Nation. That was Tom--always faithful. To put it another way, semper 
  On behalf of the Senate and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, our men and 
women in uniform around the globe, and the entire Nation, I thank Tom 
Hawkins again for his many years of patriotic service, and I extend our 
very best wishes for all that the future holds.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cotton). Without objection, it is so 
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                     Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh

  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I come to the floor to join my colleagues 
in lifting up the voices of women across the country who, right now, 
are being ignored, swept aside, and attacked, and in calling on our 
Republican colleagues to join us and do everything we can to make sure 
women are heard, listened to, and respected as we debate and deliberate 
over Judge Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.
  Recently, I was back home in Washington State to talk to my 
constituents about the Supreme Court nomination, and I met a woman 
named Caitlin, who bravely told me and others about her experience of 
being sexually assaulted.

[[Page S6315]]

  She shared her story. It was July 2016. She had gone to a concert 
that evening, and she was sexually assaulted that night, but it was how 
she explained what happened after that I want to share today.
  She said:

       As a sexual assault survivor, I know firsthand that these 
     experiences have a lasting impact and the pain can't be 
     overstated. In the aftermath of sexual violence, it's common 
     to feel humiliated and to blame ourselves; to just want to 
     forget it ever happened. I didn't want to admit that I'd 
     ``allowed'' this to happen to me, so I tried to convince 
     myself that the attack had never occurred. For these reasons 
     and so many others, it's common to wait months or . . . years 
     before confiding in anyone, even those closest to us.

  Those were Caitlin's words to me. She went on, and she said:

       Going public with our stories, opens us up to criticism 
     ranging from victim blaming to accusations that we're liars 
     and attention-seekers, in addition to far uglier insults that 
     I won't repeat right now. I know that coming forward and 
     forever tying our names to one of the most terrifying, 
     degrading experiences of our lives isn't a decision to be 
     taken lightly.

  Sadly, Caitlin is not alone--far from it. She shared her story with 
me so her story can help others and so I can lift it up, make sure it 
is being heard, and help her make a difference.
  So this brings me to the question I want to ask today: What is this 
really about, right now, in this moment, in the U.S. Senate? There is a 
whole lot of confusion, a whole lot of mud being kicked up, and a whole 
lot of distractions, but what is this moment, right now, really about?
  It is not the question of this confirmation, although that is clearly 
important. It is not whether we think Judge Kavanaugh would make a good 
Supreme Court Justice or whether we can trust him, despite the lies we 
have already heard on issue after issue. Those are, of course, critical 
questions too. It is not even whether my colleagues will believe the 
allegations brought against him are true once all the evidence is 
weighed and all investigations are complete--although, of course, for 
many of us, that question must be dug into--but to me and millions of 
people across the country, this moment right now is about the answer to 
a few simple questions.
  Is the Senate a place where women are listened to, heard, and 
respected or is it still just one more place where women's voices are 
swept under the rug, where our voices are ignored, attacked, and 
undermined, right now, in this moment, in the U.S. Senate, while the 
President of the United States is saying a woman can't be trusted 
because ``she was drunk''; while he was tweeting that Dr. Ford can't be 
trusted because if it were really as bad as she said, she would have 
reported it back when she was 15 when it happened; while Republican 
leaders are saying they will ``plow right through'' this; while they 
are desperately trying to distract people by pointing to the process 
and the timing--anything but the substance; while they hire a woman 
they are calling their ``female assistant''--the lawyer they found to 
ask Dr. Ford the questions they can't trust the Republican men on the 
Judiciary Committee to ask; while they are already sweeping past this 
hearing and scrambling to line up a committee vote right away; while 
they are planning to stay through the weekend to rush to a vote on the 
Senate floor that their leader says is ``confident'' they ``will 
win''--before Dr. Ford has even had a chance to be heard and a vote 
that doesn't need to be rushed for any good reason?
  Right now, in this moment, in the U.S. Senate, these are the 
questions: Will women be heard or will women be ignored? Will women who 
are bravely coming forward to share the most horrific experience of 
their lives be trusted or will they be treated like liars? Will women, 
such as Caitlin, Dr. Ford, and Ms. Ramirez be respected, listened to, 
and heard or will they be pushed aside, put in their places, and told 
to remain quiet?
  Right now, in this moment, in the U.S. Senate, what kind of message 
will we send to women and girls across the country who are watching, 
who are looking to see how Dr. Ford is being treated; whether Ms. 
Ramirez, who is reportedly willing to testify to the committee under 
oath--whether her story will be taken seriously or even be 
investigated. They are grappling with what may be one of the toughest 
decisions of their lives: Should they report a sexual assault? Should 
they try to bring a perpetrator to justice and make sure he faces the 
consequences he deserves or should they keep it to themselves, worried 
about the ways they may be attacked or ignored or disbelieved, 
interrogated about what they drank or wore, whom they told and when?
  Right now, in this moment, in the U.S. Senate, what kind of message 
will we send to men and boys across the country who are watching right 
now, who will see whether women are empowered to share their 
experience, men facing the consequences of their actions, and a message 
sent that this is not acceptable behavior in high school, in college, 
or anywhere else, or who will, once again, hear that women can be 
attacked and abused and disrespected and used and then ignored and 
attacked all over again when they share their stories?
  I decided to run for the U.S. Senate after I saw Senators get those 
questions wrong in the Anita Hill hearings in 1991. I ran to be a voice 
for the women and men across the country who thought it was absolutely 
wrong for her to be ignored, attacked, swept aside, and disbelieved. I 
ran for, right here, in this moment, in the U.S. Senate, to make sure 
we never allow that to happen again. I ran for my daughter who sat by 
my side as we watched that all-male Judiciary Committee grill Anita 
Hill, for her daughters--my granddaughters--who are not quite old 
enough to understand what will happen on Thursday but who will grow up 
in a world that will treat them better or worse depending on how women 
are treated this week, for Caitlin and the women like her who shared 
their stories with me--some out loud in front of crowds, some in 
whispered voices after everyone else has left--and for the women we 
don't know who have buried their experiences deep down inside, who have 
kept their secret for decades because they have been too scared or 
intimidated to come forward and who are watching right now to see what 
happens here, right now, in this moment, in the U.S. Senate.
  I am proud to bring their voices to the floor today, and I am truly 
hopeful enough Republicans stand with them and that we can do the right 
  Republican leaders need to listen--truly listen--to the women coming 
forward to share their experiences. Republican leaders need to 
investigate--truly investigate--the allegations they are making and the 
inconsistencies in Judge Kavanaugh's statements on so many issues. 
Republican leaders need to end this scramble and rush. They need to 
slow it down and do this right.
  Women and men are watching. They are paying attention, and they are 
not going to forget.
  Thank you.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The minority leader is recognized.

                     Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, as we approach tomorrow's hearing with 
Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, I want to be very clear about how the 
Republican leadership has handled these incredibly serious and credible 
allegations of sexual assault. The Republican leadership has handled 
them poorly, unfairly, and disrespectfully.
  Leader McConnell has called this entire issue a ``smear campaign'' 
cooked up by Democrats. That is a blatant falsehood that demeans the 
women who have courageously come forward. They came forward, not 
Democrats. They did it on their own, not Democrats. And when Leader 
McConnell says that it is a smear campaign, he is demeaning these 
women. As I have said before--but we have yet to hear--Leader McConnell 
owes Dr. Ford an apology for what he has said.
  After Republicans on the Judiciary Committee learned of a second 
potential allegation against Judge

[[Page S6316]]

Kavanaugh, they renewed their request, of course, to accelerate--to 
speed up--the confirmation process.
  Chairman Grassley has prohibited witnesses in tomorrow's hearing, 
other than Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, including the one and only 
alleged eyewitness to the events in question. Chairman Grassley and 
several of his colleagues on the other side have already proposed a 
final committee vote on Friday. They proposed the vote before the 
hearing occurs. Isn't that prejudgment? And they are acting, when they 
propose the vote before the hearing, as if the conclusion was 
foreordained and the hearing is just a nuisance to ``plow through.''
  Most galling of all: Republican leadership and the White House have 
blocked the FBI from reopening an independent background check 
investigation into Judge Kavanaugh, a standard procedure for Federal 
nominees when new allegations arise. This isn't a new thing that 
Democrats are pulling out of a hat. This is something we do all the 
time--except in this case, no.
  So this isn't a Democratic smear job, as the Leader so callously and 
disrespectfully suggested; this is a Republican rush job and, I might 
add, a rush job to avoid getting to the truth.
  Here is the contradiction in Leader McConnell's logic: Leader 
McConnell keeps saying that the allegations by Dr. Ford and other women 
are ``uncorroborated''--his word--while, at the same time, he is 
blockading the obvious avenues to corroborate them, and that would be 
an impartial FBI investigation calling on witnesses to testify. Senator 
McConnell's assertion is wrong on its face because sworn statements 
corroborating Dr. Ford's account were submitted to the Judiciary 
Committee yesterday. If he doesn't believe those statements, it is 
simple: Have the FBI go interview those who submitted the statements, 
and then they would have to tell the truth under the penalty of 
  So right here and now, I challenge any Member of the Republican 
Senate to come to the floor and give one good reason why we shouldn't 
allow the FBI to follow up on its background investigation--one good 
reason. I haven't heard one. With all the rhetoric, all the screaming, 
all the name-calling, all the disrespecting of women who have come 
forward--something this Nation knows all too well these days--we 
haven't heard one actual reason why there shouldn't be an FBI 
  Will it slow it down? It will take only a few days.
  I would remind Leader McConnell that he slowed down a nomination to 
the Supreme Court for a year, and now a few days is too much? Give me a 
  Dr. Ford has asked for an FBI investigation. That shows the faith she 
has in her account. Editorial boards across the country have echoed her 
call for an FBI investigation. Anita Hill, treated so unfairly in her 
day, said that an FBI investigation is essential. And I have to give 
some credit: A handful of fair-minded Republican Senators have said 
that an FBI investigation is warranted because they know it would get 
to the facts. They know it would keep politics out of it. They know it 
wouldn't cause much of a delay.
  During Justice Thomas's confirmation process, an update to the FBI 
background check took 3 days--3 days. Leader McConnell held a Supreme 
Court seat open for over 400 days. So why was that OK, and this is not 
  Again, I say to my dear friend, Leader McConnell: Give me one good 
reason--give the American people one good reason--why we shouldn't ask 
the FBI to investigate. If it is a smear job, as he claims, the FBI 
will find that out. But they also might find out that it is no smear 
job; it is the God's honest truth.
  Now, another tactic: The Republican leader has just trotted out old 
quotes by Senator Biden pointing out that FBI investigations don't 
provide conclusions.
  I would say to the leader: That is just the point. The purpose of the 
FBI investigation would not be to prove definitively who is right one 
way or the other. That is a judgment Senators are to make. The purpose 
of the FBI investigation is to provide the Senate with just the facts--
that is what we want, just the facts--to make a more informed decision 
and one the American people could have some confidence in. Their 
confidence in Judge Kavanaugh and in the process is slipping daily, and 
with good reason. Isn't an impartial, fair, timely, and nondilatory FBI 
background check investigation fair to both Dr. Ford and Judge 
Kavanaugh, taking this out of the arena of politics and making it just 
about the facts? You bet it is.
  Of course it is the right thing to do. But the Republican leaders and 
the White House have blocked it and scheduled a hearing for tomorrow 
anyway because, as Leader McConnell promised last week, he is going to 
``plow right through'' these allegations. And the motivation is clear: 
They want to put Judge Kavanaugh on the bench as quickly as possible 
because they know their nominee has a gigantic credibility problem, and 
every day that goes by, more and more Americans realize it.
  Judge Kavanaugh has misled the Judiciary Committee on numerous 
occasions about his involvement in the ugliest Bush-era controversies, 
including on torture, on the confirmation of controversial judges 
William Pryor and Charles Pickering, on the sordid affair when Manny 
Miranda, a Republican operative, stole Democratic emails. Just today, 
Ranking Member Feinstein said that Judge Kavanaugh misled the Judiciary 
Committee about an incident with a grand jury during his time working 
for Ken Starr.
  Telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth does 
not seem to be Judge Kavanaugh's way, but that is what we need on the 
Supreme Court.
  Earlier this week, the Nation watched Judge Kavanaugh swear on 
national television that he never had so much to drink that he forgot 
events. That characterization doesn't track with several descriptions 
given by many of his high school and college classmates and when he 
says ``I can't recall this, that, and the other thing'' about his 
  So the question of credibility looms. Is Judge Kavanaugh willing to 
say anything to get confirmed? And are Republican leaders willing to do 
anything to get him confirmed? Unfortunately, signs are pointing to 
  Most importantly, when the credibility of the nominee is so 
questionable, is that the kind of person we want on the Supreme Court? 
I don't care if it is a liberal, a conservative, or a moderate. When 
the question of credibility is so much in doubt, as it is now with 
Judge Kavanaugh, that person should not be sitting on the highest Court 
in the land, the arbiter of our laws and often the determiner of right 
and wrong. It would be a new lower standard for the Court and for 
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.