This week it became apparent that Brett Kavanaugh not only lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee in his pursuit of a seat on the United States Supreme Court, he also lied twice before, once in confirmation hearings.
Before Brett Kavanaugh was a liar, he really didn't care much for them. As former Judiciary Committee staffer Lisa Graves writes in a scathing takedown of his participation and use in the theft of thousands of emails during the Bush years, Kavanaugh hated lies before he didn't.
Significantly, he did so even though a few years earlier he had helped spearhead the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for perjury in a private civil case. Back then Kavanaugh took lying under oath so seriously that he was determined to do everything he could to help remove a president from office.
Manny Miranda's stolen emails
Republicans have long valued hacked emails, whether it be from a Russian hacker or from one of their own. Manny Miranda was one of their own. In 2003, Miranda figured out how to get access to Judiciary Committee Democrats' emails and steal them. In particular, he was interested in any and all documents and emails concerning judicial nominations and what Democrats were using to object to nominees.
When it was discovered, Miranda was fired and the case referred to the Sergeant-at-Arms, who issued a 40-page report of the wrongdoing. Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch summarizes it here.
Shorter summary: Miranda was fired, an investigation was undertaken, a report was issued and he should have been criminally prosecuted, but was instead protected by powerful right-wing interests and actually had the nerve to resurface to oppose Sonia Sotomayor's nomination.
As Senator Leahy noted during the hearings (see video above), this was the digital version of Watergate.
What did Kavanaugh know and when did he know it?
Lisa Graves wrote many of the documents Miranda stole -- the talking points, the strategies, the research. In the Slate article, she writes about all of the times Brett Kavanaugh denied having seen them, while under oath:
For example, in 2004, Sen. Orrin Hatch asked him directly if he received “any documents that appeared to you to have been drafted or prepared by Democratic staff members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.” Kavanaugh responded, unequivocally, “No.”
In 2006, Sen. Ted Kennedy asked him if he had any regrets about how he treated documents he had received from Miranda that he later learned were stolen. Kavanaugh rejected the premise of the question, restating that he never even saw one of those documents.
Watch in that video, as Brett Kavanaugh dodges Senator Kennedy's question by saying he never saw any of those documents. He never saw anything Manny Miranda stole from the Democrats, so he didn't need to ask himself whether that was unethical because he never even laid eyes upon them.
We now understand that is an outright lie. Graves explains:
Some of those emails went so far as to warn Kavanaugh not to distribute the Democratic talking points he was being given. If these were documents shared from the Democratic side of the aisle as part of normal business, as Kavanaugh claimed to have believed in his most recent testimony, why would they be labeled “not [for] distribution”? And why would we share our precise strategy to fight controversial Republican nominations with the Republicans we were fighting?
Another email chain included the subject line “spying.” It’s hard to imagine a more definitive clue than that. Another said “Senator Leahy’s staff has distributed a confidential letter to Dem Counsel” and then described for Kavanaugh that precise confidential information we had gathered about a nominee Kavanaugh was boosting. Again, it is illogical to think that we would have just given Miranda this “confidential” information for him to use against us. But this is precisely what Judge Kavanaugh suggested in his testimony on Wednesday. He is not that naïve.
Senator Cory Booker posted some of the emails. You can see them with your own eyes. You can also see from emails Senator Leahy posted that Kavanaugh didn't blink when Barbara Ledeen said there was a "mole" sending her documents.
Lisa Graves wrote the talking points Miranda stole and gave to Kavanaugh, who used them, discussed them, and then lied about them this week when he told the Judiciary Committee Democrats willingly shared that information with him. She writes:
In response to Leahy’s questions this week, Kavanaugh made the outlandish claim that it was typical for him to be told what Democrats planned to ask at these combative hearings over controversial nominees, and that this was in fact the “coin of the realm.” As a Democrat who worked on those questions, I can say definitively that it was not typical at all. Kavanaugh knows this full well.
At the time, Kavanaugh was working with Miranda and outside groups to try to force these nominees through the Senate over Democratic objections, and it would have been suicide to give them our research, talking points, strategies, or confidential letters. The GOP senators, their staff, the White House, and outside groups were working intensively to undermine the work of Democratic senators to block the most extreme of President Bush’s judicial nominees.
The Leahy talking points given to Kavanaugh were from my in-depth research into why the Senate had compelling historical precedent for examining Miguel Estrada’s Department of Justice records, which the White House counsel’s office was refusing to surrender. Other confidential materials Miranda shared with Kavanaugh related to investigations Democrats were pursuing over how Judge Priscilla Owen had handled an abortion case involving parental consent and about the overlap between her funders and groups with business before the courts of Texas. We would never have provided that information—key to our strategy to try to block what we considered extremist judicial nominations—to Miranda or to the White House.
Which brings me to my final point: As John Dean testified today, a failure to take the lies seriously taints the court, harms the country, and hurts real people.
And as Kavanaugh himself maintains, lies under oath should be prosecuted and the liar impeached.
By Kavanaugh's own high standards, not only should he not be confirmed to the Supreme Court, he should be impeached from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
It is time for us to shout this from the mountaintops. I was one of those who was screaming on my little limited analog platform (fax machines and phones) when Clarence Thomas was confirmed. We have a larger platform and a wider reach now. Let's use it to keep a liar from taking a seat on the highest court in the land.
After all, a liar like Kavanaugh isn't going to let a liar like Trump -- the man who nominated him -- suffer the long arm of the law. Rest assured he will protect Trump, just like he is protecting himself and like Manny Miranda is now protecting him.
Liars stick together. It's how they roll.