WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faced some pointed questions over more than 12 hours Wednesday at his confirmation hearing, with many senators focused on his views on the limits of a president's power to influence investigations of his own conduct.
Here are some of the most memorable moments from the second day of Kavanaugh’s hearings:
Feinstein frustrated by Kavanaugh’s answers on assault weapons
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the committee's ranking member, pressed Kavanaugh about his views on guns and assault weapons and why he specifically argued that the D.C. assault weapons ban was unconstitutional because the guns were in "common use." Kavanaugh argued that handguns and rifles are semi-automatic weapons and that millions of people own them.
"You're saying the numbers determine 'common use?'" said Feinstein, who said that common use is the activity.
"They're widely possessed in the United States, senator," Kavanaugh said.
Kavanaugh calls Roe v. Wade settled law
In response to a question from Feinstein, Kavanaugh said that the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade “has been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years” and the most prominent and most important case was Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992.
Feinstein had wondered in her opening statement on Tuesday if Kavanaugh believed whether Roe v. Wade is correct law, which Kavanaugh has not answered.
Democrats are deeply concerned about his views regarding women’s reproductive rights and some have claimed that he would overturn Roe v. Wade.
Hillary Clinton tweeted Wednesday morning, “A few weeks before Kavanaugh's name appeared on President Trump's short list for a new justice, Kavanaugh praised the dissent in the Roe v. Wade case and called former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist his “hero,” noting that “he clearly wanted to overrule Roe.”
Leahy asks whether Trump has a right to pardon himself
Leahy asked whether President Trump could legally pardon himself. Kavanaugh said that he couldn't respond because he hadn't explored the topic.
"The question of self-pardons is something I've never analyzed. It's a question I have not written about... It's a hypothetical question that I can't begin to answer in this context," Kavanaugh said.
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Kavanaugh declines to say whether a sitting president can be required to respond to a subpoena
Feinstein also pressed Kavanaugh about whether a sitting president can be required to respond to a subpoena, but he said that he couldn’t answer that question because it’s a “hypothetical” scenario.
"I can't give you an answer on that," said Kavanaugh, who worked earlier in his career for independent counsel Ken Starr during his investigation of President Bill Clinton.
Flake says he's worried Trump is abusing his executive power
"I worry that the president may be using the executive power to advance personal, political interests," said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.
Asked by Flake what limits there are to prevent the president from centralizing executive power and using it for political purposes, Kavanaugh pointed to congressional limits.
“First senator, there are constraints built into the Constitution: the appropriations power, the Senate confirmation power..." he said. "There’s remedies for how judges can be removed, for how members of Congress can be removed through the expulsion power and how presidents can be removed. Those are the ultimate checks."
Harris presses Kavanaugh about conversations about Mueller, Russia probe
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., a possible 2020 presidential contender, asked Kavanaugh if he'd had conversations about special counsel Robert Mueller or the Russia investigation with anyone who works for the law firm Kasowitz, Benson and Torres, founded by Trump's personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz.
"I'm not remembering," said Kavanaugh initially. "I don't know everyone who works at that law firm."
Kavanaugh said that he was sure he'd spoken to fellow judges about the Russia probe.
Kavanaugh refuses to commit to recusing himself if case involving Trump comes before Supreme Court
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., asked Kavanaugh if he could commit to recusing himself if an issue involving Trump's civil or criminal liability were to come before the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh responded that one key facet of the principle of independence of the judiciary was "not to make commitments on particular cases."
"I am troubled and disturbed," Blumenthal responded.
Kavanaugh says he wasn’t involved in Bush’s enhanced interrogation program
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, asked the nominee if he played any role in developing the policies employed by the George W. Bush administration in the early 2000s.
“I was not read into that program, not involved in crafting that program, nor crafting the legal justifications for that program,” said Kavanaugh.
The nominee also denied misleading Congress more than a decade ago when he was asked by the Senate in 2006 whether he had anything to do with crafting the terrorism detainee policy, as Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., alleged at the time.
The Department of Justice said there was not enough evidence that proved Kavanaugh gave false statements to Congress.
“I told the truth and whole truth in my prior testimony,” Kavanaugh said Wednesday.
Durbin tells Kavanaugh he could allow access to his documents
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., asked Kavanaugh if he had been involved in the decision to withhold documents related to his nomination relating to his service in the George W. Bush White House, citing executive privilege.
"No, I was not involved in the documents process or substance," Kavanaugh said.
Durbin said that the National Archives is now being asked to give Kavanaugh special treatment.
"Judge Kavanaugh, this is your field," Durbin said. "I think it's up to you."