CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin characterized Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-Calif.) questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as “puzzling” and “unfair.”
Harris grilled Kavanaugh for several minutes Wednesday night about whether he had talked with anyone from Kasowitz Benson Torres, a New York based law firm, which employs hundreds of attorneys.
“With all that you remember — you have an impeccable memory, you’ve been speaking about all sorts of things you remember — how can you not remember whether or not you had a conversation about Robert Mueller or his investigation with anyone at that law firm?” Harris asked.
“I’m just trying to think if I know anyone that works at that firm,” Kavanaugh replied.
“That’s not my question. My question is have you had a conversation with anyone at that firm about the investigation. It’s a specific investigation,” Harris, a former prosecutor, fired back.
“I would like to know the person you’re thinking of,” said Kavanaugh.
“I think you’re thinking of someone and you don’t want to tell us,” the senator responded.
At this point, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, interjected.
“If there are names he can be given of the lawyers to whom she’s referring I think that’s fine, but I think it’s unfair to suggest that an entire law firm should be imputed into the witness’ memory when he doesn’t know who works at the law firm,” Lee said.
Discussing the exchange on CNN on Thursday, Toobin agreed with Lee that Harris’ question seemed unfair.
“Well, it was certainly peculiar and frankly I was sympathetic to what Mike Lee was saying at the end there,” he said. “If Kamala Harris had a specific conversation that she was referring to that she wanted to ask him about, it seemed to me she should have asked ‘did you speak to John Doe from the Kasowitz law firm?’ or Jane Doe or more than one person.
“But just to ask generally ‘did you speak to someone’ — it’s a fairly large law firm, there are a couple hundred lawyers there — I found it puzzling,” Toobin added.
Do you think Harris’ question was fair?
“Now in fairness, this hearing is not over, and Kamala Harris has the opportunity follow up here, to produce more evidence, to ask questions in another round. But the questions in and of themselves I don’t think proved anything, and I thought were somewhat unfair to Brett Kavanaugh,” said the legal analyst.
Harris picked up the line of questioning again on Thursday at the confirmation hearing, but still did not offer a name.
“I received reliable information that you had a conversation about the special counsel or his investigation with the law firm that has represented President Trump,” she said.
“I asked were you ever part of a conversation. I’m not asking what did you say,” Harris added. “I’m asking were you a party to a conversation that occurred regarding special counsel Mueller’s investigation? And a simple yes or no would suffice.”
.@senkamalaharris: “The subject of the question is you & whether you were part of a conversation regarding Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation.”
Judge #Kavanaugh: “The answer is no.”
Harris: “Thank you. And it would have been great if you could have said that last night.” pic.twitter.com/zfkOJJwHPB
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 6, 2018
“About his investigation,” Kavanaugh clarified. “And are you referring to a specific person?”
Harris repeatedly would not give a name only saying, “I’m referring to a specific subject and the specific person I’m referring to is you.”
Kavanaugh then responded, “The answer is no.”
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