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Senator Mike Lee On The Confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh, Pending Appeals Court Nominees

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Utah Senator Mike Lee joined me this AM:

Audio:

10-10hhs-lee

Transcript:

HH: Joined now by United States Senator Mike Lee. Good morning, Senator Lee. Welcome, congratulations on your role in confirming a very able and good man to the United States Supreme Court, Justice Kavanaugh.

ML: Oh, thank you, Hugh. It was an honor and a pleasure to be part of that as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and I’m just glad that we got him through.

HH: You had some great exchanges with him in his first appearance that were substantive in discussing the Federalist Papers and other things like that. But then, it degenerated. I have to ask you an unpleasant question. Were you or any member of your family physically threatened in the process of confirming Justice Kavanaugh?

ML: I was doxed, meaning our personal information was released – our personal address where I’m here in Washington, where I live in Utah as well as my personal cell phone number. And it’s terrible. It leaves us feeling very unsafe. My wife has had to be followed to the park by the local police. It’s not a pleasant thing. This is completely unnecessary, I would add. It’s completely unnecessary to descend to a point in our society where with the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice, someone has to feel physically threatened by the release of such information.

HH: Well, you know that former Secretary of State Clinton went on with Christiane Amanpour yesterday at Oxford. Let me play you the start of her cut number nine so you can comment on it.

HRC: You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.

HH: So Mike Lee, Hillary Clinton saying you can’t be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for. I don’t think you want to destroy anything, but I am shocked that Secretary Clinton said that.

ML: I am, too, Hugh, and especially because she went on to say in that same clip that if Democrats could win in this election, then we can go on to be civil after that. In other words, according to Hillary, civility is what happens between two groups of people when her group gets what it wants. That’s appalling. That’s not civility. In fact, that’s the opposite of civility. I haven’t, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard someone who purports to be a responsible member of society say something so awful. And I demand that she retract it.

HH: Senator Lee, let me ask you some specifics about the Judiciary Committee. There are 10 nominees, three of which have cleared committee for the federal appeals courts. Will they get hearings and votes before the end of this Congress?

ML: Yes, yes they will. We’re going to make sure we do that. And Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are determined to make sure that happens.

HH: Do you expect any more nominees, especially for the critical vacancy left behind by Brett Kavanaugh, on the D.C. Circuit to emerge from the White House quickly?

ML: That’s completely up to the White House. I’m not going to speak for the White House on that. I would love for that to happen.

HH: Would you be interested in serving on the D.C. Circuit, Senator Lee?

ML: No, I’ve got a job that I’m doing right now, and I’m convicted more now than ever that this is where I need to be.

HH: Now in terms of the upcoming elections, the intensity level increased dramatically for Republicans. Do you believe it will be maintained between now for your colleagues who are running? We actually don’t have anyone on the defense except Dean Heller. You may go campaign for him. But we’ve got a lot of chances to pick up seats. How do you view this?

ML: Yeah, we do have a lot of chances to pick up seats. And I’m looking forward to that. I am a little bit worried, more worried than I would like to have to be right now about my friend, Ted Cruz, in Texas. That is a close race. But you’re right. We’ve got a lot of states, including states like Florida that a year ago people wouldn’t necessarily have been saying yeah, that could be in play. So I think we’ve got a good chance to pick up seats. We do have to maintain the intensity, and particularly for purposes of maintaining the majority in the House, I think that’s going to be important as well.

HH: Now last night on Chris Hayes on MSNBC, Beto O’Rourke, who is running against Senator Cruz, was asked would he have voted yes or no on Brett Kavanaugh. This was his answer, cut number one:

BO’R: I would not have. We’re 50th in the country, as you said, in voter turnout by design, on purpose, some people not intended to vote. We need a Supreme Court justice who believes in voting rights. In a state where you can be fired for being gay, a Supreme Court justice who believes in civil rights, a state that’s the epicenter of the maternal mortality crisis, a justice who believes in a woman’s right to make her own decision about her own body, and have access to the health care that ensures that she can. He fails the bar on each and every single one of those tests. So the next justice to be nominated can only be confirmed if he or importantly she can meet those qualifications. And I’m going to make sure that we hold the president to that bar for each and every single one of those issues.

HH: So Senator Lee, that’s pretty explicit. Beto O’Rourke is a hard left guy. I cannot imagine Texas picking him over Ted Cruz.

ML: No, I can’t imagine them doing so, either. That’s why I’m stunned every time there are polls that come out that show this guy is that close. The idea of Robert Francis O’Rourke stepping in and saying things like that in bright red Texas and winning seems preposterous. And yet, the polls show that he’s gathering some momentum. And so if any of your listeners are in a position to reach out to Ted Cruz, if you live in Texas, make sure you show up to vote for Ted Cruz and do whatever you can to support him, regardless of where you live.

HH: Now let’s close by going back to the hearings. You reviewed the confidential FBI report. We’ve only seen the summary of it. Was there any contemporaneous corroboration of Dr. Ford’s allegation? I know that you told people…

ML: Absol…

HH: Go ahead.

ML: Absolutely not. Nothing. In fact, there was the opposite of corroboration. Not only did you have every alleged eyewitness saying I have no recollection of this, but you had multiple alleged eyewitnesses saying not only do we not remember this happening, this isn’t the type of gathering that would have ever occurred, that did ever occur. And so there’s nothing from that era, no contemporaneous corroboration that backed up this story in any way. And under such circumstances, you cannot just accept the fact that because somebody has brought forward an allegation, it’s true.

HH: Did you have any allegation made by Julie Swetnick corroborated in any way, I mean, Michael Avanatti…

ML: NO.

HH: …put it out there on the web. I’m kind of astonished he did that. But did any of that show up?

ML: No, no. I would almost put that in the category of reckless disregard for the truth. I mean, that one rose to a whole new level. He was accusing, Ms. Swetnick was accusing Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge of engaging in a multiyear-long criminal conspiracy in which they deliberately drugged young women so that they could gang rape them. I mean, the allegation is patent[ly false] on its face for about ten different reasons, including the fact that they weren’t even in high school at the same time, including the fact that none of them knew her, and her friends didn’t know them. And I still can’t believe Avanatti put it forward. He must be really desperate to jumpstart his presidential campaign.

HH: Yesterday, Senator Cotton said on this show that he believed from the start that Chuck Schumer’s political operation orchestrated this, including Dr. Ford’s statement. He incorrectly stated that a friend of Dr. Ford had worked for Preet Bharara. In fact, she had worked for the FBI at the same time that Preet Bharara was the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney, and we’ve corrected that. But what do you think? Was Chuck Schumer driving this bus?

ML: I don’t know whether it was Chuck Schumer himself. It certainly could have been. But there was something going on here, because there was a decision made somewhere along the line after they became aware of this information, and six weeks until it actually came out. They were doing stuff. They were hiring legal counsel referred by Senator Feinstein. They were taking polygraphs on the same day as Dr. Ford’s grandmother’s funeral. They were doing all this stuff at a time when allegedly she didn’t want to talk to anyone, and yet she wasn’t being informed by her own legal team that she had the opportunity to be interviewed in the privacy and comfort of her own home. She was never told that. So apparently somebody along the way decided that this was going to be a media circus, and they wanted to launch it at exactly the right time. That’s disgusting. That makes Dr. Ford a victim, at a minimum, of negligence by her lawyers, at a maximum of a deliberate campaign to misuse her. And I think that’s tragic. I think that needs to be looked into.

HH: I’m a member of the D.C. Bar. I’m also a member of the California Bar. I don’t know how one launches bar complaints, but that struck me as deserving one.

ML: Yeah, and look, we don’t have jurisdiction to launch a bar complaint. But what we do have jurisdiction to look into here is to find out where this leak came from, because it looks like it might well have come from a member of our committee, or that member’s staff. And we need to find that out.

HH: Senator Mike Lee, always a pleasure to talk to you. I hope you’ll call up the White House today and get Don McGahn to send you some more nominees, because if they get there in the next two weeks, you think you can clear them by December?

ML: We’ll do our level best. I hope he will.

HH: All right. Mike Lee, always a pleasure. Thank you, Senator.

End of interview.

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