Letter to Editor 05

Among several surreal moments at the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, one of the strangest was an encounter Wednesday evening between Sen. Kamala Harris and the nominee.

In full prosecutorial mode, Harris asked Kavanaugh: “Have you discussed (Robert S.) Mueller or his investigation with anyone at Kasowitz Benson Torres, the law firm founded by Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal lawyer?”

She added the portentous warning: “Be sure about your answer, sir.”

Like most people watching, I assumed Harris was about to confront Kavanaugh with evidence that there had been such a potentially problematic conversation, and name the lawyer with whom Kavanaugh supposedly communicated.

But there was no big reveal.

Kavanaugh reasonably asked Harris, “Is there a person you’re talking about?”

She shot back: “I’m asking you a very direct question: yes or no?”

“I’m not sure I know everyone who works at that law firm,” Kavanaugh said.

Harris pressed on: “I don’t think you need to. I think you need to know who you talked with. Who’d you talk to?”

Kavanaugh: “I’m not remembering, but I’m happy to be refreshed or if you want to tell me who you’re thinking (of).

Kamala Harris

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., questions Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Harris: “Are you saying that with all that you remember — you have an impeccable memory; you’ve been speaking for almost eight hours, I think more, to this committee about all sorts of things you remember. How can you not remember whether or not you had a conversation about Robert Mueller or his investigation with anyone at that law firm? The investigation has only been going on for so long, sir.”

It gets even stranger after that, with Harris engaging in Kreskin-like mind-reading (“I think you’re thinking of someone and you don’t want to tell us.”)

At Thursday’s session Kavanaugh told Sen. Orrin Hatch that “I don’t recall any conversations of that kind with anyone at that law firm” about the Mueller investigation.

CNN quoted Harris as saying that “I have a good reason to believe there was a conversation” and that her question was based on “pretty reliable” evidence.

Her grilling of Kavanaugh would have been more effective if she had provided it.