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Klobuchar: Kavanaugh confirmation process is 'not normal'

The Minnesota Democrat says she's concerned about documents that she has seen but is not allowed to discuss.
by Leigh Ann Caldwell /  / Updated 

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WASHINGTON — With the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh scheduled to begin Tuesday, Democrats say they remain concerned over the lack of information about his past record that they, and the public at large, will be able to see.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who sits on the Judiciary Committee that will question Kavanaugh, said Sunday that the process of the nomination is has not been “normal.”

“It’s not normal because we are not able to see 100,000 documents because the administration has said we can’t see them, exerting their executive power; 148,000 documents that I’ve seen that you cannot see because they will not allow us to make them public so I can’t even tell you about them right now on this show,” Klobuchar said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Klobuchar said the documents that she’s seen raise “some very interesting questions” about the nominee's views, but added that she remains unable to discuss the documents.

"I think that you could ask some very interesting questions about these documents that I'm unable to even say," she said.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley's office pushed back on the notion that the documents are hidden from the public. Grassley offered senators the chance to put in a request on which documents they'd like released.

Klobcuhar said that Kavanaugh’s position on executive power was concerning, especially when it comes to the question of how a president can be investigated. Kavanaugh, who worked for independent counsel Ken Starr during the Bill Clinton investigation, has since questioned the extent to which a sitting president should be exposed to investigations.

“You have a nominee who has one of the most expansive views of presidential power that we’ve seen in history,” Klobuchar said.

Democrats have little ability under current Senate rules to block a nominee, but Klobuchar said she would prefer to bring back the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees to pass the Senate.

“I would prefer to bring it back,” Klobuchar said of the filibuster. But she added that she doubts it would happen because no party in power is going to want to “hamstring themselves.”

The 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees was eliminated last year by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell before the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, leaving the minority party with no ability to block a nominee. Prior to that, Democrats eliminated the threshold for other executive nominees and judicial appointments. As a result, the Senate appears to be on the verge of confirming President Donald Trump's second Supreme Court nominee in as many years on nearly party-line votes.

Klobuchar, who is up for re-election this fall, also would not outright say that she would campaign for Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who is running for attorney general in her home state. Ellison has been accused of domestic abuse of his former girlfriend.

“He hasn’t asked me to campaign for him,” Klobuchar said, adding that she would campaign for the entire Democratic ticket in Minnesota “when the time comes.”

“He is still addressing this to the people of Minnesota. It is still being reviewed,” she said. “I know he is moving forward.”

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