The Senate Judiciary committee released Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s responses to some of the most controversial moments of his Supreme Court confirmation hearings Monday night, including an interaction with the father of a Parkland shooting victim who alleged that he ignored him and controversies surrounding his stance on abortion.
When asked about one of the more contentious moments of his hearing, when he appeared to avoid a handshake with Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie was among the victims killed during a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last February, Kavanaugh said he thought Guttenberg was a protester and his security detail subsequently intervened. “In that split second, I unfortunately did not realize that the man was the father of a shooting victim from Parkland, Florida,” he wrote. “Mr. Guttenberg has suffered an incalculable loss. If I had known who he was, I would have shaken his hand, talked to him, and expressed my sympathy. And I would have listened to him.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the judiciary committee, had invited Guttenberg to the hearings. He did not immediately respond to request for comment from TIME.
Kavanaugh also said he never asked Capitol Police to remove Guttenberg from the room, and was unaware if anyone had acted on his behalf to do so. “If someone purported to act on my behalf, they did so without my knowledge and contrary to my wishes,” he wrote.
Kavanaugh also said that he used the term “abortion-inducing drugs” during his confirmation solely because he was mimicking the way the plaintiffs he was discussing had used it.
“At the hearing, I was not expressing an opinion on whether particular drugs induce abortion; I used that phrase only to accurately recount the plaintiffs’ own assertions,” he wrote.
Kavanaugh had used the term when Senator Ted Cruz had asked him about his dissent in Priests for Life v. United States Department of Health & Human Services. In that dissent, he had sided with a religious organization that objected to the provision in the Affordable Care Act requiring health insurance companies and employees to provide contraception as part of their coverage.
As he had during the hearings, Kavanaugh declined to weigh in on what exceptions he would allow should Roe v. Wade be overturned, citing judicial independence. He used that same response when asked about whether a president should comply with a subpoena, another topic he declined to weigh in on during his hearing.
The Supreme Court nominee was responding to questions from committee Democrats, who submitted them in writing for the record after his hearing concluded last Friday. In total, according to Judiciary Chairman Senator Chuck Grassley the ten Democrats on the committee submitted 1, 278 written questions, a number he said was higher than the combined total questions submitted for every other Supreme Court nominee. Eight additional questions came from Grassley and one from Arizona Senator Jeff Flake.
“Submitting this many written questions appears to be just one more effort to gum up the process. It’s unnecessary and dilatory, especially when many have already decided to vote against Judge Kavanaugh,” Grassley said in a statement. “What more do they need to know to vote ‘no’?”
The Judiciary committee is slated to vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation Thursday, which will be followed by a vote on the Senate floor. At least four Democrats on the committee have already said they will vote against his confirmation.
The White House prognosticated that the release of these questions was one more step in a successful confirmation process. “Despite the endless complaints from critics, the Committee has received more material regarding Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination than any nominee in history — by a wide margin,” said White House Spokesman Raj Shah. “Its members have more than enough information to consider his nomination, and we look forward to them advancing it to the full Senate.”
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