October 05, 2018

Harris on Kavanaugh Nomination: This Has Not Been a Search for the Truth

Video of Harris’ Remarks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U. S. Senator Kamala D. Harris, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke on the United States Senate floor with Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) against the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.

“This has not been a search for the truth,” said Senator Harris. “The minimum standard for a Supreme Court nominee should be someone who we are confident will demonstrate impartiality, integrity, and truthfulness, but the nominee we are voting on has not demonstrated those qualities. Every American is entitled to the benefit of the doubt, but nobody is entitled to a seat on the United States Supreme Court.”

Key quotes from Harris’ remarks:

  • “I am a former prosecutor. I have led investigations and I have prosecuted all types of crimes, particular violent crimes, including specialization in sexual assault cases as a prosecutor. I have tried these cases in a courtroom. I have spent hours, hours with assault victims and I can tell you that when we look at what happened during the course of these days, these few days, in reviewing and giving regard and respect to Dr. Ford, we have fallen short. We have fallen short.”

 

  • “Now let’s be clear about one thing. There has been a lot of conflation around here about the subject and the need for an investigation into Dr. Ford’s allegations. Ours was not a search to determine whether a crime occurred. Ours was not a search to determine whether we had enough facts to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime had occurred. No, ours was an investigation to figure out enough about what happened to determine if Brett Kavanaugh is fit to serve on the highest court in our land. Is he fit to be a jurist in the place where we have said justice in our country occurs? In the house where we listen to evidence and truth and make determinations based on the veracity and truthfulness of what has occurred. That is our role when it comes to Dr. Ford’s allegations, and we fell short. We fell short. We did not do her justice. We did not do the American people justice.”

 

  • “This is a travesty. They did not interview the Georgetown Prep alumni or others from that era who contradict Kavanaugh’s testimony. They did not interview Dr. Ford’s husband or a number of her friends who she told of the assault before, before Kavanaugh’s nomination. They did not interview the former FBI special agent who conducted Dr. Ford’s polygraph. They did not interview Kavanaugh’s roommate at Yale who has contradicted Kavanaugh’s testimony…They did not interview Dr. Ford at all. They did not interview Dr. Ford at all. Did not give her the ability to speak her truth during the so-called investigation. And they did not interview Judge Kavanaugh about these allegations. This was not a search for the truth. This was not an investigation. This was an abdication of responsibility and duty.”

Full transcript of Harris’ remarks:

Mr. President, given the serious and troubling allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, I am deeply disturbed that the Senate is moving forward with this nomination. When it was announced that the FBI could investigate these serious and credible allegations, I had hoped that there would be a legitimate investigation.

As the former Attorney General of California, I have tremendous, tremendous respect for the sworn law enforcement officers at the FBI. And this should have been a search for the truth. They should have been allowed to do their full job, but instead the White House did not allow it. This was not a search for the truth. Instead, this was about politics and raw power to push through an unfit nominee.

I am a former prosecutor. I have led investigations and I have prosecuted all types of crimes, particular violent crimes, including specialization in sexual assault cases as a prosecutor. I have tried these cases in a courtroom. I have spent hours, hours with assault victims and I can tell you that when we look at what happened during the course of these days, these few days, in reviewing and giving regard and respect to Dr. Ford, we have fallen short. We have fallen short.

63% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police in our country. Delayed reporting is normal. Mr. President, I will tell you that when I was personally prosecuting sexual assault cases, we would be in a courtroom, I would be there as the prosecutor, the accused, the accused’s attorney, a judge, and then a room, a courtroom full of prospective jurors. And we would engage in a process called voir dire where we would talk with perspective jurors, with our fellow citizens, to determine if they would be able to sit as a juror and without bias listen to the case, and then make a determination about the facts and the law.

I cannot tell you the number of times, colleagues, that a prospective juror would raise their hand and ask could they quietly speak with me and the defense attorney and the judge in judge’s chambers outside of the courtroom and outside of the sight and the ability for anyone else in the courtroom to hear.

And we would go into the judge’s chambers and I cannot tell you the number of people who would sit in a chair, and with tears in their eyes, tell us that they had been a victim of sexual assault and had never told anyone, not even their spouse, but because of what they had experienced, they knew they could not possibly sit in a courtroom and hear the testimony, that they knew would come related to the charges that they knew the case was about.

This is an issue that impacts so many Americans, most of whom don’t report it and don’t tell anyone and usually when they do it’s because something precipitated the telling of their story that was beyond the time during which they endured the assault itself. Dr. Ford’s experience in this regard is no different from the majority of sexual assault victims, and she should be believed.

I know what it means to engage in an investigation and a search for the truth, having been a part of investigations to determine what has happened and in particular if a crime has occurred. Now let’s be clear about one thing. There has been a lot of conflation around here about the subject and the need for an investigation into Dr. Ford’s allegations. Ours was not a search to determine whether a crime occurred. Ours was not a search to determine whether we had enough facts to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime had occurred. No, ours was an investigation to figure out enough about what happened to determine if Brett Kavanaugh is fit to serve on the highest court in our land. Is he fit to be a jurist in the place where we have said justice in our country occurs? In the house where we listen to evidence and truth and make determinations based on the veracity and truthfulness of what has occurred. That is our role when it comes to Dr. Ford’s allegations, and we fell short. We fell short. We did not do her justice. We did not do the American people justice.

We were given one week to investigate, the Republicans said you’ll get one week, they threw out one week, an arbitrary amount of time. And in less than one week we are presented with paltry documents. There was not, clearly, when the White House directed the FBI to do its work, it appears from everything I’ve seen, the FBI was not permitted to look at all of the allegations. That is clear to me. It is clear that the White House did not permit the FBI to request Mark Judge’s Safeway employment records. It is clear from everything I’ve seen the White House did not permit the FBI to investigate the dishonest testimony of Brett Kavanaugh or to examine and listen to the evidence that would have been provided by a list of over two dozen witnesses that would have been at the very least able to corroborate or deny the allegations that were made. This was not a meaningful investigation into the allegations that are before us.

And this most importantly was not a search for the truth. Media outlets have reported that there are more than 40 people with potential relevant information who are willing to share their information, but only nine people were interviewed. This is a travesty. They did not interview the Georgetown Prep alumni or others from that era who contradict Kavanaugh’s testimony. They did not interview Dr. Ford’s husband or a number of her friends who she told of the assault before, before Kavanaugh’s nomination. They did not interview the former FBI special agent who conducted Dr. Ford’s polygraph. They did not interview Kavanaugh’s roommate at Yale who has contradicted Kavanaugh’s testimony. They did not interview another one of Kavanaugh’s neighbors in the dorm at Yale. They did not interview three of Kavanaugh’s friends from Yale who wrote in the Washington Post just last night “Brett also belonged to a Yale senior secret society called ‘Truth and Courage.’ We believe that Brett neither tells the former nor embodies the latter.” They did not interview Dr. Ford at all. They did not interview Dr. Ford at all. Did not give her the ability to speak her truth during the so-called investigation. And they did not interview Judge Kavanaugh about these allegations. This was not a search for the truth. This was not an investigation. This was an abdication of responsibility and duty.

And this on the heels of a process that began with hiding more than 90% of Judge Kavanaugh’s record. We only received approximately 400,000 pages out of an estimated 6.9 million pages of documents. The Republicans have been saying, oh you should be happy you received thousands of pages of documents, because they want us to treat crumbs on the table like it’s a feast. These were crumbs on the table compared to the vast amount of information that is available to some about his background. This process has left the American people with more questions than answers. This has not been a search for the truth. The minimum standard for a Supreme Court nominee should be someone who we are confident will demonstrate impartiality, integrity, and truthfulness, but the nominee we are voting on has not demonstrated those qualities. Every American is entitled to the benefit of the doubt, but nobody is entitled to a seat on the United States Supreme Court.

I yield to my colleague, Senator Murray.

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