California Sen. Kamala Harris (D) opened her questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Wednesday with a blistering line of inquiry: Has the judge ever spoken with anyone at Kasowitz, Benson & Torres — the law firm of President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Marc Kasowitz — about the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller?
“Is there a person you’re talking about?” Kavanaugh replied, appearing perplexed.
“I’m asking you a very direct question — yes or no?” Harris continued.
The fiery exchange went around in circles for several minutes as Kavanaugh repeatedly declined to answer Harris’ question, saying he didn’t know everyone employed by the firm and probing the lawmaker for a specific name. Harris, however, did not relent.
“I think you’re thinking of someone and you don’t want to tell us,” the senator said. “Did you speak with anyone at that law firm about Bob Mueller’s investigation?”
It’s unclear why Harris decided to launch into that line of questioning, or if she had any evidence to back up her inquiry. She later abandoned the effort and moved on to other topics. Democrats have worried about Kavanaugh’s stance on presidential authority and how he might rule on issues related to Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Politico, citing a Democratic aide familiar with the questioning, said that some lawmakers believe a conversation along the lines of Harris’ inquiry may have happened and that they are “continuing to pursue it.” But the outlet also notes that the law firm Harris mentioned is massive, with more than 250 attorneys on staff.
Kavanaugh proved difficult to pin down during the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, despite an onslaught of pressure from Democrats. He sidestepped their questions, including those asking if a president could be protected from investigation while in office, saying it would be inappropriate to comment on such issues that might come before the Supreme Court if he’s appointed.
He also declined to say if he would recuse himself on future cases involving Trump.
Harris said Wednesday that she would follow up with Kavanaugh in writing after the hearing, which will resume at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday.