Sen. Kamala Harris of California questioned Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh about the Russia investigation on the second day of his Senate confirmation hearing.
During one tense exchange, Harris asked Kavanaugh if he had ever discussed the special counsel Robert Mueller with anyone at the Kasowitz, Benson and Torres law firm. Marc Kasowitz, a partner at the firm, is one of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyers.
Mueller is leading the inquiry into Russia’s influence in the 2016 US presidential election and the investigation of whether Trump obstructed justice in the matter.
Harris asked Kavanaugh: “Have you had any conversation about Robert Mueller or his investigation with anyone at that firm? Yes or no?”
“Is there a person you’re talking about?” Kavanaugh asked.
“I’m asking you a very direct question — yes or no?” Harris said.
“I’m not sure I know everyone who works at that law firm,” Kavanaugh replied.
Harris’ question appeared to puzzle the Supreme Court nominee, who paused for long periods before asking the California senator if she wanted to know whether he spoke with a specific person at the firm about Mueller.
“I think you’re thinking of someone and you don’t want to tell us,” Harris said, before rephrasing her question: “Did you speak with anyone at that law firm about Bob Mueller’s investigation?”
“I’m not remembering anything like that, but I want to know a roster of people, and I want to know more,” Kavanaugh said.
The eight-minute exchange raised some eyebrows on Wednesday night, in part because Kavanaugh repeatedly asked Harris to clarify her yes-or-no question, but also because Harris is among a group of Democrats wary of Kavanaugh’s views on matters that could be pertinent to Trump when the Russia probe ends — including whether a sitting president can be indicted.
The Justice Department has said on two separate occasions — in 1973 and in 2000— that the president cannot be charged with a crime while in office. The Supreme Court would have to rule on that question to settle the matter for good.
In previous writings, Kavanaugh has advocated for more latitude within the executive branch. An analysis from The Washington Post notes that this could mean Kavanaugh believes current law is too restrictive on the office of the president.
Those views could inform which side a Justice Kavanaugh might take if the presidential indictment question reaches the Supreme Court bench. He made clear earlier Wednesday that he believes “no one is above the law.”
Watch the Kamala Harris/Brett Kavanaugh exchange below: