Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh rejected a question on Wednesday about whether Donald Trump has the legal power to grant a presidential pardon, but insisted that the Oval Office occupant is not exempt from federal laws.
On the second day of the confirmation hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh told Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy that the question of self-forgiveness is something I've never discussed. It's a question I have not written about. It is a question, therefore, that is a hypothetical question that I can not begin to answer in this context, as a judge in office and as a candidate for the Supreme Court. "
Trump tweeted in June that he has "the absolute right of PARDON", but why would he do that when I did nothing wrong?
He said on Wednesday in the White House that he is "happy with Kavanaugh's hearings," but the Democrats are "hanging on to the straws, and really the other side should embrace him."
"He is an outstanding intellect, he is an outstanding judge, he was born for the position," the president told reporters, adding that he had seen part of the coverage of the audience.
Kavanaugh, an hour earlier, had flatly refused to get involved with Leahy, an independent liberal who meets with Democrats, about whether the president could forgive himself, forgive others in exchange for bribes or forgive people with the understanding of that they would not testify against him.
Scroll down for videos
The Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, answered many questions from the senators on Wednesday, but eluded one over whether a sitting president can forgive himself.
President Donald Trump is involved in overlapping legal issues related to the Russian investigation of special lawyer Robert Mueller, who presents constitutionally complicated questions about whether he can forgive himself and avoid being cited.
The president wrote three months ago on Twitter that he has "the absolute right of PARDON".
"I'm not going to answer hypothetical questions of that kind," he said.
Meanwhile, Democrat minority leader Chuck Schumer forced Majority Republican leader Mitch McConnell to close the Senate for the day rather than shorten the hearings.
A long-standing rule requires the consent of the minority party to hold open committee hearings after the Senate has been in session for two hours or after 2:00 p.m. It's a routine procedure, but Schumer got in the way on Wednesday, complaining that the Republicans had not produced a complete written record of Kavanaugh's stay in the White House of George W. Bush.
"The Republican majority in the Judiciary Committee is pushing for a confirmation hearing on a Supreme Court nominee whose record has been largely protected from the Senate and the American public," Schumer said in the Senate floor and added that he "will not consent." . the usual. & # 39;
Faced with the possibility of shortening the confirmation hearing for the day – and raising the possibility of a four-day process until next week – McConnell decided to suspend the Senate for the day, so the so-called rule of the two hours & # 39; it would not come into play.
Minutes later in the courtroom, Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn made fun of the "scams". of Schumer.
Kavanaugh answered questions from senators on Wednesday and insisted that "you are not a Republican or a Democrat as a federal judge."
President Trump told reporters on Wednesday in the White House that he liked what he saw so far of Kavanaugh and that opposing Democrats must give up and support his nomination.
By then, Kavanaugh had survived a second morning of newspaper bursts of protesters, and his first difficult questions from Senate Democrats on a wide range of issues, including gun control, abortion rights and the constitutional limits of presidential power.
He repeatedly emphasized the importance of judicial independence and insisted that "nobody is above the law", even though he declined to comment on whether a president in office could be summoned.
"I can not give you an answer on that hypothetical question," he told California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
The Supreme Court never answered that question, and it is one of the most important in Kavanaugh's hearing, since Trump could face a subpoena in Robert Mueller's special investigation on Russia.
Indignant Democrats have complained that Kavanaugh, a veteran of the federal appeals court for 12 years, could become the ace of Trump's death in the Supreme Court, protecting the man who nominated him for the job.
He tried to reassure them on Wednesday by telling them he would never respond to political pressure: "He is not a Republican or a Democrat as a federal judge."
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (left) tried to force an early end to Kavanaugh's hearing by refusing to allow it to continue after 2:00 p.m. while the Senate was in session; That is his right under the rules of the Senate, but the leader of the Republican majority Mitch McConnell responded by raising the Senate session so that the audience could continue.
Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn (left) harshly criticized the Democrats for their "pranks" that could have prolonged Kavanaugh's hearings for eight days.
Despite the interruptions, while more than a dozen protesters were being taken out of the courtroom, on day two of Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings, senators were delved into questions and answers.
The audience has strong political connotations before the November elections, but Democrats lack the votes to block Kavanaugh's confirmation. They fear that Kavanaugh will push the court to the right on abortion, weapons and other matters, and that he will ally with Trump in the cases stemming from Mueller's investigation of the Trump campaign in 2016.
Addressing some of those concerns, Kavanaugh said that "the first thing that makes a good judge is independence, not being influenced by political or public pressure," he quoted historical court cases that included Brown v. Board of Education that disaggregated schools and EE. UU Nixon forced the president to hand over the Watergate tapes, a ruling that Kavanaugh had previously questioned.
"That requires a little support," he said of the judges who decided those cases.
When asked about judicial precedents, the importance of previously resolved cases, including Roe v. Roe's landmark decision. Wade of 1973 guarantees access to abortion, said Kavanaugh: "Respect for precedents is important … The precedent is rooted in the Constitution itself."
Kavanaugh noted that Roe was reaffirmed in a 1992 decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. He compared it with another controversial and emblematic decision of the Supreme Court, the Miranda opinion on the rights of criminal suspects. Kavanaugh said the court specifically reaffirmed both decisions in subsequent cases that made them "precedent precedents."
Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, praised Kavanaugh for hiring lawyers as her clerks as a judge in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, and then raised questions about whether Kavanaugh was aware of allegations of sexual harassment against the retired judge. Alex Kozinski in California. Kavanaugh had worked for Kozinski in the early 1990s and considered the judge as a friend and mentor.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, escorted Kavanaugh to the witness table on the second day of his confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
Kavanaugh has repeatedly referred to a widely used copy of the US Constitution. UU When Senate Democrats try to derail their nomination to the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh said he knew nothing about the allegations until they were revealed last year. "It was a blow to my stomach," he said, and he was "shocked, disappointed, angry."
When asked about an email list that Kozinski allegedly used to send offensive material, Kavanaugh said: "I do not remember any of that."
Trump nominated Kavanaugh, 53, to fill the post of retired judge Anthony Kennedy. The change could make the court more conservative on a variety of issues.
The Republicans hope to confirm Kavanaugh in time for the first day of the new Supreme Court period, on October 1.
By emphasizing his independence, Kavanaugh retracted suggestions that after his time with the team of independent lawyer Kenneth Starr investigating Bill Clinton in the 1990s, he no longer believes that an incumbent president should be investigated. He said his views changed after the attacks of September 11, 2001, but his ideas about revisiting the special advisory law were mere suggestions.
& # 39; There were some ideas for Congress to consider. They were not my constitutional views, "he told the panel.
Pressed by Feinstein on his comment several years ago that the v. Nixon could have been wrongly decided, said his appointment, shown on a poster about the senator, "was not in context" and "I have repeatedly called the United States v. Nixon one of the four best moments in the history of the court" .
The work of the judge in the White House of George W. Bush has also figured in the audience, particularly when Senate Democrats have fought for greater access to their emails and other documents during his three years as secretary of personnel. The Republicans have refused to look for these documents and, instead, have collected documents of their work as advisers to the White House for Bush.
Democrats, including several senators prepared for the 2020 presidential offers, tried to block the process on Tuesday in a dispute over the records. The Republicans in turn accused the Democrats of turning the audience into a circus.
Trump jumped into the fray on Tuesday, saying on Twitter that the Democrats were "looking to inflict pain and embarrassment". to Kavanaugh.
Protesters continued to appear during Kavanaugh's hearing on Wednesday and the US Capitol Police. UU I was ready to get them out of the courtroom.
A group of women dressed as "servants" of the famoid dystopian television program "The Handmaid & # 39; s Tale" took a break from the protests on Wednesday
The president's comment followed statements by Democratic senators who warned that Trump was, in the words of Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, "selecting a Supreme Court judge who will potentially cast a decisive vote on his own case."
The most likely outcome of this week's hearings is a vote along the party lines to send Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate. The Republican majority can confirm Kavanaugh without any Democratic vote, although he will have little margin for error.
One of the Red State Democrats saw how to potentially vote for Kavanaugh, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, joined the hearing at the hearing for a while. He is ready for reelection this fall.
Republicans will maintain a slim 51-49 majority in the Senate once Jon Kyl, the former Arizona senator, takes over the seat occupied by former Senator John McCain.
Sens. Susan Collins, from Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, from Alaska, are the only two Republicans who are even remotely open to voting against Kavanaugh, though neither of them said he would. Advocates of abortion rights are trying to attract senators, who favor access to abortion.