Well after CNN and Fox News stopped live coverage of Brett Kavanaugh‘s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, more than eight hours into his testimony, Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) asked a startling question about Special Counsel Robert Mueller. First, she asked if Kavanaugh had ever spoken about Mueller or his investigation with anyone. Naturally, Kavanaugh said yes, because who hasn’t talked about Mueller at some point? Then, however, she dropped this bomb:
Have you discussed Mueller or his investigation with anyone at Kasowitz Benson and Torres, the law firm founded by Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal lawyer?
As Kavanaugh hesitated, Harris warned him, “Be sure about your answer, sir.”
Harris repeated the question, as Kavanaugh remained silent. He finally responded with a question of his own.
“Is there a person you’re talking about?” he asked, noting, “I’m not sure I know everyone who works at that law firm.”
Harris wouldn’t specify anyone, but repeated her question. Kavanaugh continued to dodge.
“I’m not remembering. I’m happy to be refreshed.”
This is a classic method of saying no to a question without putting one’s self at risk for perjury. By saying he doesn’t remember, Kavanaugh avoided a flat denial without admitting anything. It could mean that he didn’t want to reveal information, but it could also mean that he truly did not knowingly speak with anyone at the firm, but didn’t want to get caught in a trap.
Harris wasn’t satisfied, and pressed on.
“How can you not remember whether you had a conversation about Robert Mueller or his investigation with anyone at that law firm?” she asked, noting how good Kavanaugh’s memory had been thus far. Kavanaugh asked for specifics.
“I would like to know the person you’re thinking of,” he said.
“I think you’re thinking of someone and you don’t want to tell us,” Harris said with a grin, drawing laughter from the audience.
Enter Senator Mike Lee for the save, breaking the tension with an objection.
“This town is full of law firms. Law firms are full of people,” Lee said.
Giving Kavanaugh additional time to gather his thoughts, a protester yelled out, and was then escorted from the room.
Lee continued, saying, “There is no possible way we can expect this witness to know who populates an entire firm.” More protesters called out, with one voice rising above the others, repeatedly demanding, “Answer the question! Answer the question!”
After some side conversation between Senate Judiciary Committee members, Harris continued to push her question. Finally, she got the closest thing to an answer she would get.
“I’m not remembering anything like that, but I want to know a roster of people and I want to know more.”
“So you’re not denying that you’ve spoken?”
“I said I’m not remembering anything like that.”
“Clearly you’re not going to answer the question,” Harris said, giving up.
So what does this all mean? Clearly, Harris is insinuating that Kavanaugh spoke with someone at Kasowitz about Mueller, as a back channel for relaying information to President Donald Trump. If this was prior to Trump nominating Kavanaugh, it could have been a way for Trump to see who among his list of potential justices would side with him regarding Mueller’s investigation.
This wouldn’t necessarily mean that Kavanaugh is in Trump’s pocket, but it would definitely give the appearance that it’s possible. With so much talk among Republican Senators that the Supreme Court exists outside of politics, evidence of a conversation like the one Harris hinted at could be a severe blow to Kavanaugh’s credibility.
[Image via SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images]