Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee received Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson’s court records hours after Democrats received them, Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) admitted.
Since before Jackson’s hearings began, Republicans have said that they were having trouble receiving the full documents of Jackson’s record with the U.S. Sentencing Commission, a group created in 1984 for the stated purpose of “[reducing] sentencing disparities and [promoting] transparency and proportionality in sentencing.”
“So far, the Sentencing Commission has refused to turn over all Judge Jackson’s records from her time there,” said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) in a March 16 Twitter thread discussing Jackson’s “alarming pattern” of leniency toward those in possession of child porn. In light of what we have learned, this stonewalling must end. We must get access to all relevant records.”
During the first round of Jackson’s hearings Monday, Judiciary Republicans still had not received the documents.
“I was disappointed we weren’t able to get bipartisan agreement to ask for Judge Jackson’s documents from her time as Vice Chair at the Sentencing Commission,” Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in his opening statement.
Late Tuesday night, Republicans finally received the requested documents but received them several hours after Democrats.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) referenced Jackson’s probation recommendation records during her questions to Jackson on Tuesday, suggesting that Democrats had had enough time to look through the documents.
Just before taking a dinner break from the hearing, which was over 12 hours long, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) renewed GOP demands for access to the records, citing Hirono’s use of the documents in her own questions.
“To the best of my knowledge, those probation recommendations are not in the record. I haven’t seen them, my staff hasn’t seen them,” Cruz said before suggesting that the White House had given the records to Democrats but not to Republicans.
“You know we completed discovery before this hearing,” Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin interjected.
“How did Senator Hirono get that information that Republicans have not been given?” Cruz responded.
“I’m not gonna entertain this,” Durbin said.
“Do you have access to them?” Cruz asked.
“I don’t know if I do, I really don’t,” Durbin responded, putting an end to the discussion by ordering the beginning of the 10-minute dinner break.
Later, Durbin seemed to admit that he did have access to the records, but only after they had been handed to Republicans as they returned from their dinner break.
“As we walked [back in], Republicans were handed this piece of paper, which is the first time that any of us have ever seen [it],” Cruz said.
“The information that we received from the White House, I’m told everyone had access to if they want it,” Durbin said. “And now you have it, just a matter of hours after we received it.”
In a Twitter post showing the exchange between Cruz and Durbin, the Senate Judiciary Republicans page asked, “Is there anything else that Democrats have access to in this case that they’re not sharing with Republicans on this committee?”
GOP Judiciary leader Chuck Grassley also took to Twitter to condemn Democrats for keeping the documents from Republicans.
Throughout Judge Jackson’s “vetting process I’ve called for non-public [documents]” from both the White House & Sentencing Commission so we can have thorough review, GOP Judiciary leader Chuck Grassley said on Twitter. He continued saying that Democrats withheld relevant documents from Republicans until the 11th hour, “I ask again: what [are] Democrats trying to hide?”
The Judiciary Committee is onto its third day of hearings for Jackson, who has faced significant scrutiny from Republican critics over the relatively lenient sentences she gave to child porn offenders.
Because this is the first full day with both sides in possession of the previously-withheld documents, they could play an important role in determining GOP questions on Wednesday.
After Jackson’s hearing wraps up, she will face a vote in the equally-divided Judiciary Committee where, due to rules worked out by Senate Democrat and GOP leadership, Jackson will need only to win a tie to advance to the Senate floor.
In the equally-divided Senate, Jackson’s fate will ultimately be determined by swing-voting Democrats like Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), whose support Democrats need to win to push Jackson over the finish line.