Early last week, Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, seemed like a shoo-in for confirmation in a Republican-dominated Senate.
What a difference a week can make.
While perjury allegations failed to halt the Republican Kavanaugh confirmation juggernaut, the accusations of attempted rape at a high school party from a woman now identified as Professor Christine Ford has finally forced the GOP to pause their rush to finalize the lifetime appointment.
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Now, a group of federal court employees want to come forward with their concerns about the Kavanaugh nomination but are worried about facing retaliation. Multiple people who work alongside Kavanaugh in court have approached attorney Cyrus Sanai to share their worries about the nominee’s suitability for the seat and shield themselves from possible retribution.
Sanai sent a letter to Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, back in July outlining the court employees’ stories and their fears of coming forward to articulate them, according to an article on The Intercept.
“There are persons who work for, or who have worked for, the federal judiciary who have important stories to tell about disgraced former Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, and his mentee, current United States Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I know that there are people who wish to speak out but fear retaliation because I have been contacted by more than a half-dozen such persons since Judge Kozinski resigned in disgrace,” Sanai wrote in his letter to the Senators.
Kavanaugh is a former law clerk for former Judge Kozinski, who resigned his seat on the 9th Circuit Court after 15 women came forward with stories of his inappropriate behavior, including showing them pornography without consent and touching them inappropriately.
Kavanaugh denied under oath during his recent confirmation hearings that he had any knowledge of his disgraced former mentor’s sexually predatory actions. However, Sanai —who was a whistleblower in the Kozinski case and has said that he faced retaliation for his own early disclosures in that matter — says he finds the nominee’s claims hard to believe, particularly given the close relationship between the two men.
Besides being a former clerk for Kozinski, Kavanaugh helped his mentor vet clerks for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose retirement at the end of the court’s last term led to Kavanaugh’s nomination. Kozinski’s son also worked as a clerk for the controversial nominee.
Kavanaugh is “either lying or so willfully blind to judicial misconduct that he should not be appointed. Everyone knew, even if everyone did not have personal knowledge,” Sanai said in his letter.
Sanai wants Congress to focus attention on judges who enabled Judge Kozinski aberrant behavior, saying that he can guarantee that federal court employees will come forward with relevant information if they do so. He also requested that they issue a subpoena for emails between Kavanaugh and Kozinski, and to call witnesses, including himself, to testify about those who protected Kozinski from consequences for his alleged sexual misconduct.
Such testimony could be particularly dangerous for Kavanaugh given his prior sworn denials of any knowledge of his friend’s conduct.
Now that the confirmation process is on hold while the Judiciary Committee investigates Professor Ford’s sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, it makes sense that the Committee also investigate these other credible allegations against him as well.
The Supreme Court managed to function for months while being a judge short of a full roster when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stole the right to a fair hearing from Merrick Garland, President Obama’s legitimate pick for the court in the last year of his term. It can function just as well until all of the allegations against Kavanaugh are fully investigated and the remainder of the Bush-era papers that have been held back from a Congressional review is completely vetted.
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Original reporting by Ryan Grim at The Intercept.