Senator Tom Cotton joined me this morning:
HH: Gosh, Tom Cotton, Senator extraordinaire from Arkansas, what a great day in Washington. Brett Kavanaugh is nominated. Your reaction to his nomination?
TC: Very, well, first, Hugh, let me say congratulations on 18 fantastic years of the Hugh Hewitt Show, and 36 years of marriage to the Fetching Mrs. Hewitt.
HH: Thank you, thank you.
TC: …indicating that she is probably the most patient and understanding woman on the face of the Earth after putting up with you for 36 years.
HH: I have to agree with that. I have to agree with that. So tell me about your reaction last night when Brett Kavanaugh, the President probably called you beforehand, but what was your reaction?
TC: The President did throughout this process what he promised to do on the campaign trail, what he did in his first opportunity to nominate a Supreme Court justice, is work from a list that he gave to the American people in advance of very distinguished jurists of all stripes. He selected Judge Kavanaugh who has a long and very impressive record from the D.C. Circuit, and before that as a very capable appellate lawyer in Washington, D.C. I’ve got now a stack of opinions on my desk that I’ll be reading through, which is one of the reasons why I left the law and became a soldier, but it’s part of the job. And then I’ll look forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh very soon.
HH: Now there is a story this morning that this was prearranged, a deal that was made with Justice Kennedy to entice him to retire, that it would be Judge Kavanaugh. I don’t know if it’s true. It’s widely reported. If it is true, does that change your assessment of this?
TC: Hugh, no, that’s the first I’ve heard of such a deal. And I’ll evaluate this nomination on its merits, on Judge Kavanaugh’s record and his character and his jurisprudence. Justice Kennedy served our country for a very long time, and we should thank him for that service. But he’s going to take senior status now, and what we have to do as senators is evaluate Judge Kavanaugh’s record, and Judge Kavanaugh’s jurisprudence when we vote on his nomination. The relationship between the President and Justice Kennedy, in my opinion, is really not relevant to that consideration.
HH: And I want to urge everyone to consult history. Often, justices talk to the White House about when they’re going to leave, so that’s not a scandal. I talked earlier with Todd Young, with Raj Shah, Senator Cotton, about the Kavanaugh papers at the Bush White House library, the Bush library down in Texas, and about the Independent Counsel papers, urging rapid disclosure, because they will eventually come out, those that are not classified. Those that are classified will end up in a SCIF for senators to review. Do you agree with me, or do you think that there’s any doubt that those papers have to be produced?
TC: Well, I have no doubt that the Senate will receive the documents we need to consider Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. In fact, George W. Bush just committed to President Trump already that his library and archives would work in an efficient manner to make sure that all documents are produced, and to the extent that there are any privileges or classification issues, they work in a cooperative manner to try to get senators the information they need. Now that said, we certainly can’t let the Democrats slow roll this nomination, making endless and needless requests for documents in which Judge Kavanaugh played no part. For three years, Judge Kavanaugh was President Bush’s staff secretary. That’s the person who controls the flow of papers in and out of the West Wing. It’s a very important role, but that doesn’t mean that he wrote hundreds of thousands or millions of pieces of paper that crossed the President’s desk. And we shouldn’t let the Democrats use the facts like that to draw out needlessly the meetings and then the hearings that we’ll have on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. I expect they’ll do that. The Democrats in the Senate have kind of gone around the bend already on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination if you look at some of the extreme rhetoric, or my favorite part was some of the senators standing out in front of the Supreme Court last night protesting the nomination. And you could see in the background they had signs premade not just for stopping Kavanaugh, but stop Barrett and stop Hardiman and stop Kethledge as well. So it’s clear they’re just playing a somewhat laughable political game, and they would have opposed for partisan reasons anyone that President Trump nominated.
HH: Now Senator, I have to get your reaction. Reuters is confirming that all 12 boys and the coach of the Wild Board Thai soccer team have gotten out of the cave, that doctors and the SEALs are making their way out. Of course, it cost the life of one Thai SEAL who we’re not going to forget on this program, either, but your reaction as a military man to this extraordinary effort, and to the sacrifice that Saman Kunan made, and the ultimate sacrifice in getting them out?
TC: Hugh, it’s a fantastic story. It’s really a love story of that Navy SEAL, and all the SEALs that were willing to volunteer their time and their effort and risk their lives, and all the civilians, all the former SEALs, all the civilian divers from many different countries for this Thai-led effort, it’s just an incredible story of hope and love that these young boys got out of that cave. I think the world is celebrating today.
HH: It is indeed. Senator Tom Cotton, thank you for joining me.
End of interview.