- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 4, 2018

President Trump and White House allies expressed confidence Tuesday that Senate Democrats’ partisan temper-tantrum antics in the stormy confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh will backfire with most of the public.

“The Brett Kavanaugh hearings for the future Justice of the Supreme Court are truly a display of how mean, angry, and despicable the other side is,” Mr. Trump tweeted after eight hours of partisan vitriol aimed at the nominee. “They will say anything, and are only looking to inflict pain and embarrassment to one of the most highly renowned jurists to ever appear before Congress. So sad to see!”

White House officials sent reminders on social media about Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications for the high court while Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee interrupted the hearing, demanded a delay to seek more of the nominee’s records and seemingly encouraged screaming protesters who disrupted the hearing dozens of times.

“I don’t think that plays well with most Americans,” said Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network. “That might be something that fires up the ‘hashtag resistance’ crowd, but I don’t think that’s what most Americans want to see. It’s embarrassing. This is table-pounding.”

Republican strategist Josh Holmes, former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, also predicted that the Democrats’ behavior would backfire.

“The beginning to this Kavanaugh hearing is everything Republicans could’ve hoped for and more,” he tweeted.

As Senate Democrats tried a variety of tactics to delay the hearing, the White House kept score.

The tally: Judiciary Committee Democrats complained 80 times about a lack of documents on the nominee’s background and interrupted their Republican colleagues on the committee 63 times. They mentioned Judge Kavanaugh’s record as a jurist only 12 times.

Through it all, a visibly exasperated Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, bent the rules to allow committee Democrats to talk. And talk. And talk.

“We got off to a very bad start,” Mr. Grassley lamented at one point. “Either you run the committee, or you let the committee run you, and I let the committee run me this time.”

But Ms. Severino said Mr. Grassley took the right approach: essentially allowing Democrats to behave in ways that hurt their own cause.

“I think what Sen. Grassley’s been doing may be the best course: Let them shout and yell and jump up and down,” she said.

“They know they’ve got no legs to stand on. It’s frustrating for any of us, because it’s not an adult way to behave. They’d rather stage a circus event to try to throw a tantrum. It’s not good for the Senate, it’s not good for the Supreme Court, it’s not good for the American people.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said Democrats are still acting out of frustration that Mr. Trump won the presidency in 2016. He said he will do everything he can to ensure that special counsel Robert Mueller completes his investigation without interference from the White House, but Democrats are being hypocritical in their opposition to Judge Kavanaugh.

“People see through this,” Mr. Graham told Democratic lawmakers. “You had your chance, and you lost. If you want to pick judges from your way of thinking, then you’d better win an election.”

During the hearing, the White House response was more muted, with several tweets focusing on Judge Kavanaugh’s record as a federal appeals court judge.

“President Trump promised to nominate Supreme Court justices who ‘faithfully interpret and follow the Constitution as written by our founders’ — and Judge Kavanaugh’s record is impeccable,” the White House tweeted.

White House allies also pointed out as motivation for the Democrats’ strategy a fundraising email sent Tuesday morning during the hearing by Sen. Cory A. Booker of New Jersey, a possible contender for the 2020 presidential nomination. The fundraising pitch said Judge Kavanaugh has a “long record of handing down decisions that are detrimental to everyday Americans.”

“We should all be concerned about what it would mean for our country if Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court,” Mr. Booker’s email stated. “I will be questioning Judge Kavanaugh at length in this week’s Judiciary Committee hearing to shed more light on his views and record.”

Said a Republican source, “We’re just very focused on the fact that this is someone who is a widely respected jurist, someone whose qualifications are impeccable.”

Allies of the White House also are noting that Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, arguably the most right and left justices on the court in recent years, were confirmed by the Senate almost unanimously — 98-0 for Scalia in 1986, 96-3 for Justice Ginsburg in 1993. But the Democrats’ opposition to Judge Kavanaugh, considered more moderate than either of them, is far more intense.

“For someone like Brett Kavanaugh, that’s disappointing,” one Republican said.

Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican and a frequent critic of Mr. Trump, said the president has nothing to do with the histrionics of the hearing. He said the problem dates to the Senate’s rejection of Robert Bork’s nomination in 1987.

“The reason these hearings don’t work is not because of Donald Trump,” Mr. Sasse said. “It’s not because of anything these last 20 months. These confirmation hearings haven’t worked for 31 years in America.”

Alex Swoyer contributed to this report.

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