Published 11:25 p.m. UTC Sep 4, 2018
WASHINGTON – The first day of confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh – President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court – quickly lurched out of control Tuesday with screaming protesters and senators who refused to stick to the 10-minute timeline for their partisan speeches.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, vowed to take charge of the hearings on Wednesday when senators get a chance to start questioning Kavanaugh in a grueling session that is expected to last at least 12 hours.
Here's a look at some of the highlights of Tuesday's session and what to expect on Wednesday:
The first day got off to a wild start.
The first 90 minutes of the hearing were taken up by dozens of protesters interrupting the proceedings by yelling out anti-Kavanaugh slogans. At the same time, Democratic members made a last-ditch effort to postpone the hearing to give them time to review a mountain of documents about Kavanaugh and to demand more.
The protesters were removed from the hearing room by Capitol Police, and attempts by Democrats to delay the proceedings failed when Grassley ruled them out of order.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the second-highest-ranking Republican in the Senate, dubbed the raucous scene "mob rule."
Access to documents is a big battle.
Democrats said the hearing should be delayed until they receive all of the documents from Kavanaugh's three-year tenure as staff secretary for former President George W. Bush.
The White House has withheld more than 100,000 pages based on claims of executive privilege. Democrats also complained that Republicans dumped 45,000 documents on the committee the night before the hearing, giving senators little time to review them.
But Grassley said the committee has already received 483,000 pages of records from Kavanaugh's time working in the White House counsel's office during the Bush administration. About 300,000 pages were posted on the committee's website for public review, while the remainder were restricted to senators.
"The American people have unprecedented access and more materials to review for Judge Kavanaugh than they ever had for a Supreme Court nominee," Grassley said in refusing to delay the hearing.
Kavanaugh finally got to speak.
After a day filled with lengthy speeches from the 21 senators on the Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh had a chance to introduce himself to the public as he read his introductory statement.
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Kavanaugh's comments were the least controversial of the hearing. When it was finally his turn to speak, Kavanaugh told senators that, if confirmed to the high court, he would be a legal "umpire" who would not choose sides ahead of time.
"I don’t decide cases based on personal or policy preferences. I am not a pro-plaintiff or pro-defendant judge. I am not a pro-prosecution or pro-defense judge," Kavanaugh said. "I am a pro-law judge."
Senators gave a preview of Day Two.
Senators told Kavanaugh some of the top issues that they will bring up when they get a chance to begin questioning him on Wednesday.
Both Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said they plan to ask Kavanaugh questions about his views on presidential power and the limits of that power.
"I want to know where you think executive powers begin and end," Flake told Kavanaugh, who is currently a federal appeals court judge.
Blumenthal said the issue is especially important since Kavanaugh could be the deciding vote on whether or not special counsel Robert Mueller can indict Trump or compel him to testify as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
"Your responses to our questions will be highly enlightening about whether you join us in defending the Department of Justice and the rule of law," Blumenthal said
Democrats also indicated that they will ask the judge about his views on abortion rights, gun control, civil rights, and healthcare.
Expect Wednesday's hearing to be a marathon.
The committee expects the hearing to last at least 12 hours, and possibly longer. Each of the 21 senators will get 30 minutes to ask questions of Kavanaugh, whose ability to survive the endurance contest is a key test of whether he will be confirmed.
If Kavanaugh is like most recent nominees, he will answer the questions cautiously and try to avoid saying how he would rule on a particular issue.
Contributing: Richard Wolf