|Did SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh|
help cover up Judge Bill Pryor's ties
to gay pornography via badpuppy.com?
|Bill Pryor, from his gallery of|
Kavanaugh told the late Sen. Ted Kennedy in 2004, under oath, that he was not involved in the Pryor nomination. But documents released yesterday in Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) show he was involved in the process that led to Pryor landing on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
Elie Mystal, executive editor at Above the Law (ATL), says the documents released by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) prove Kavanaugh committed perjury before Congress in 2004. From Mystal's article, which is titled "Brett Kavanaugh perjured himself. He should be impeached from the D.C. Circuit soon: Are Republicans really going to confirm a judge who will need to be impeached?":
Since Kavanaugh’s perjury occurred in , Democrats in the House should move NOW to impeach Kavanaugh. Papers should be drawn up by tomorrow.
We should have a House vote on the impeachment of Kavanaugh from the D.C. Circuit before we have a Senate vote on his confirmation. Each House member running for reelection this fall should be asked to vote on whether a member of the Court of Appeals can lie to Congress and still have his job.
And we should be able to know the answer to that question before we ask senators to vote on his nomination. Potentially, they’ll need to conduct an impeachment trial on Kavanaugh before they can vote on his confirmation.
That's powerful stuff, and it hits close to home here at Legal Schnauzer. That's because in September 2013 we broke the story that Pryor, while a college student, posed nude for photographs that wound up at the gay-pornography site badpuppy.com. Our posts were picked up by numerous Web sites around the country (including Above the Law) and reportedly played a major role in Pryor falling out of favor as a possible Donald Trump appointee to SCOTUS.
|Bill Pryor: Robed and disrobed|
On the evening of Oct. 23, 2013 -- after an unflattering post that morning about Pryor's ties to the tobacco industry -- deputies broke into our home, beat me in our garage, doused me with pepper spray, and hauled me for a five-month stay in the Shelby County Jail. That's all without a whiff of any criminal allegation. I became the first U.S. journalist since 2006 to be incarcerated and likely the first person in U.S. history to be arrested for blogging -- and to be jailed because of a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that have been unlawful under more than 230 years of First Amendment law.
How does our experience intersect with revelations yesterday at the Kavanaugh hearings? Many ways are possible, but this might be the key question: Did Kavanaugh know about Pryor's history with gay porn, did he help Pryor skirt that issue in the confirmation process -- and would documents currently being withheld prove that Kavanaugh helped cover for Pryor?
How did issues of Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Pryor, and perjury arise in yesterday's hearings? Elie Mystal explains:
Take ideology out of it for a second. Yes, documents heroically released today by Senator Cory Booker show Brett Kavanaugh’s antipathy towards minorities and willingness to entertain Korematsu-style racial profiling. Yes, documents obtained by the AP show Kavanaugh’s willingness to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Those views are problematic, but typical of modern American conservatives.
What’s atypical, or at least we’re told it’s atypical, is for American conservatives to suborn perjury. But that’s what they’re doing by supporting Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. During today’s confirmation hearings, Brett Kavanaugh was shown to have perjured himself before Congress in .
In , Kavanaugh told Ted Kennedy that he was “not involved” in Bill Pryor’s nomination to the Eleventh Circuit. In fact, he was involved. In documents made public during Senator Pat Leahy’s questioning, Kavanaugh is shown to have recommended Pryor, and invited to actively discuss Pyror’s hearings.
Mystal provides more background about the perjury, and it shows that Kavanaugh has a tendency to be involved with partisan skulduggery:
In a world where the President of the United States will lie about what time it is while standing in front of a clock, this may seem like de minimis lying. We’ve become so accustomed to people lying and then still being put in positions of public trust that we tend to forget that truthfulness should be a minimum requirement for office.
But there’s more. Kavanaugh had a good, albeit nefarious, reason to lie to Ted Kennedy. His involvement in those hearings was aided by documents stolen from Senator Leahy and other senators on the Judiciary Committee. Documents released today show that Kavanaugh was on emails which had, and I’m not making this up, “SPYING” in the actual subject head:
When pressed by Senator Leahy, Kavanaugh said that he didn’t know he was working with stolen information (for hearings he lied about working on). Leahy said, “I was born at night, but not last night.” Leahy said that he couldn’t believe that Kavanaugh was in possession of stolen information, and used, and testified differently.
This. Is. Perjury.
Is the Republican Party willing to address this in a serious fashion? That remains unclear, but Mystal shows that it is, in fact, very serious:
That should be game over. As much as I disagree with the ideology of conservatives, I refuse to believe that they can’t find one who believes what they believe and yet doesn’t lie before Congress.
|Patrick Leahy and Brett Kavanaugh|
Remember, even Mitch McConnell didn’t want this particular nominee. He thought there were conservatives who would be easier to confirm. Kavanaugh was pushed by Jeff Sessions and Don McGahn, two people President Trump now hates. It would be simple for Republicans to take a stand here, and thereby generate a smidgen of credibility that they place integrity above ideology.
I’m not going to hold my breath.
Perhaps some historical perspective is in order -- and Mystal provides it:
Which brings us to impeachment. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, the Democrats will now have grounds to call for his impeachment every single day for the literal rest of his natural life. He perjured himself before Congress. We now have more on him than we had on Bill Clinton.
Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution does not reserve impeachment for the president. It is a remedy that can be used against any federal officer. The procedure is the same, the House votes for impeachment, the Senate, by supermajority, votes to convict.
In our history, two presidents have been impeached, one senator, and… 15 judges. Eight of those judges have been convicted, though that hasn’t happened since 1805. While Kavanaugh and his ilk might want to bring us back to 1805, that’s not really the kind of precedent we should hang the integrity of the Supreme Court upon.
But, remember, I said impeachment applies to all federal officials. Kavanaugh is still very much a federal official — he’s a member of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
What if Brett Kavanaugh isn't the only federal judge who should be subject to scrutiny regarding perjury? What if Bill Pryor also lied to Congress and should be the target of impeachment proceedings? We have addressed that issue before:
That brings us to Pryor's Senate confirmation hearing. It is standard for a federal nominee to be asked, under oath, if there is anything in his background that might embarrass him or the president who nominated him. Pryor has known the nude photos were public since at least September 1997, and our sources say he likely did not disclose their existence to FBI and Senate investigators.
What are the possible implications of that? Here is how we answered that question in an earlier post:
Could Pryor face serious consequences if it is shown he made false statements to officials looking into his background? Based on the impeachment and removal of Louisiana federal judge Thomas Porteous in 2010, the answer might be yes.
One of the articles of impeachment against Porteous involved his failure to disclose information to investigators--and his false statements during pre-confirmation regarding any background information that might prove embarrassing to him and the president who nominated him, Bill Clinton.
Did Pryor withhold information that would embarrass him and George W. Bush? We don't have a certain answer at the moment, but it appears likely.