Patrick Leahy, the senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the dean of the current US Senate, is not prone to hyperbole. So when he expresses concerns after the completion of US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing about “untruthful testimony, under oath and on the record,” he should be taken seriously.
As the nomination of Kavanaugh has been under consideration, Leahy has focused attention on an incident involving Republican staffers on the Judiciary Committee who, between 2001 and 2003, hacked into the private computer files of six Senate Democrats (including Leahy) and stole 4,670 files, which “they used to assist in getting President Bush’s most controversial judicial nominees confirmed.” The scheme was exposed late in 2003, when The Wall Street Journal published some of the stolen materials, revealing what Leahy describes as a “scandal” that “amounted to a digital Watergate—a theft not unlike Russia’s hacking of the DNC.”
“During all of this,” recalls Leahy, “Judge Kavanaugh worked in the White House Counsel’s Office on judicial nominations. He worked hand-in-hand with (GOP Senate aide Manuel) Miranda to advance these same controversial nominees. Not surprisingly, Judge Kavanaugh was asked extensively about his knowledge of the theft during both his 2004 and 2006 hearings. And I mean extensively: 111 questions from six senators, both Republicans and Democrats.”
Leahy explains that Kavanaugh “testified under oath—and he testified repeatedly—that he never received any stolen materials, and that he knew nothing about it until it was public. He testified that if he had suspected anything ‘untoward’ he would have reported it. At the time, we left it there. We didn’t have evidence to suggest otherwise.” Now, Leahy tells The Washington Post, there is evidence to suggest that Kavanaugh was “not truthful.”
Kavanaugh has claimed that he did not suspect the materials he handled, and relied on as a key Bush-Cheney administration aide, were stolen from the Democrats. But Leahy says, “There were numerous emails sent to him that made it very clear this was stolen information, including a draft letter from me.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was equally blunt in her conclusion. “Brett Kavanaugh used materials stolen from Democratic senators to advance President Bush’s judicial nominees,” she wrote last week. “He was asked about this in 2004, 2006 and this week. His answers were not true.”