09.05.18

Comment Of Senator Leahy On His Questioning Of Judge Kavanaugh On Hacked Democratic Files

Between 2001 and 2003, two Republican staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee regularly hacked into the private computer files of six Democratic senators, including me.  They stole 4,670 files, and they used them to assist in getting President Bush’s most controversial judicial nominees confirmed.  This became public in late 2003 when The Wall Street Journal happened to print some of the stolen materials. 

The ringleader behind this massive theft was a Republican Senate staffer named Manny Miranda.  The scandal amounted to a digital Watergate — a theft not unlike Russia’s hacking of the DNC. 

During all of this, Judge Kavanaugh worked in the White House Counsel’s Office on judicial nominations.  He worked hand-in-hand with Miranda to advance these same controversial nominees.  Not surprisingly, Judge Kavanaugh was asked extensively about his knowledge of the theft during both his 2004 and 2006 hearings.  And I mean extensively: 111 questions from six senators, both Republicans and Democrats. 

He testified under oath — and he testified repeatedly — that he never received any stolen materials, and that he knew nothing about it until it was public.  He testified that if he had suspected anything “untoward” he would have reported it.  At the time, we left it there.  We didn’t have evidence to suggest otherwise.

Today, with the limited amount of Judge Kavanaugh’s White House record that has been provided to the Judiciary Committee, for the first time we have been able to learn some information about his knowledge of this theft. 

Here is a description of the three emails that have been made public.  There are many more that have been hidden from public scrutiny under a faulty claim of committee confidentiality.  I suspect there are even more that were never released to the committee at all, based on the partisan and woefully incomplete document production.

  • Miranda email exposing what I was going to ask a controversial nominee at her coming confirmation hearing.
    • On July 19, 2002, Mr. Miranda sent Judge Kavanaugh and another Bush official an email asking why the “Leahy people” were looking into financial ties between two special interest groups and Priscilla Owen, a particularly controversial nominee to the Fifth Circuit.  Judge Kavanaugh was the point person in the White House for the Owen nomination.  Then, two days before her hearing, Miranda shared that the Democrats were “passing around” a related 60 Minutes story.  He also said, “Intel suggests that Leahy will focus on all things money.” 
    • This “intel” was stolen.  In fact, it appears to have originated with a memo I received from my staff the night before Miranda sent it to Judge Kavanaugh.
  •  Miranda email disclosing private draft letter of mine before any mention of it was public.
    • In January 2003, Mr. Miranda forwarded to Judge Kavanaugh a private letter from me and other Judiciary Democrats to then-Majority Leader Tom Daschle.  This letter was a draft, and obviously so.  Someone eventually leaked its existence to Fox News.  This was a private letter, and at the time I was shocked to learn its existence had been leaked.  But here’s the thing:  Judge Kavanaugh had the full text of my letter in his inbox before any reference to the letters existence was leaked to the press
    • This letter was big news in the judicial nominations world at the time.  And Judge Kavanaugh was a main player in that world.  He would have known that he received this letter before it was in the press.
  • Miranda wanted to meet privately, off-site, with Judge Kavanaugh and another Bush official to hand-deliver documents related to Senators Feinstein and Biden.
    • Judge Kavanaugh said at the time he couldn’t make it, but wanted to discuss it later.
    • Only part of this chain has been made public.  Additional emails raise further suspicion.
    • Judge Kavanaugh disclosed in his testimony today that he may have met privately with Miranda on other occasions.

There are numerous other committee confidential emails that shed light on Judge Kavanaugh’s relationship with Miranda.  They need to be made public now, before it’s too late.  They raise serious questions about Judge Kavanaugh’s claim that he never suspected he benefited from this massive hacking of Democratic files.  And they also raise questions about his truthfulness under oath in response to the 111 questions he received on this topic the last time he was before the Judiciary Committee. 

Senator Grassley has assured me he will release these documents for my questions tomorrow.

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