Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) admitted Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court that he and other Democrats participated in a conference call on how to disrupt the hearings.
Durbin was responding to a question by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), who cited an NBC News tweet from earlier in the morning that reported that Senate Democrats had planned over the Labor Day weekend to use protests and interruptions.
Democrats plotted coordinated protest strategy over the holiday weekend and all agreed to disrupt and protest the hearing, sources tell me and @frankthorp
Dem leader @chuckschumer led a phone call and committee members are executing now
— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) September 4, 2018
The hearing had already been disrupted several times by protesters — led by the anti-Trump and Democrat-aligned Women’s March, which claimed credit — and several senators also interrupted proceedings with interjections.
Kavanaugh hearing has returned to regular order after Democratic senators and protesters interrupted the proceedings; Kavanaugh has given his initial welcome statement.https://t.co/ZJFXD3N0Wphttps://t.co/0csxHPszp1
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) September 4, 2018
Sen. Tillis asked: “I’m reviewing a tweet by NBC that said ‘Democrats plotted coordinated protest strategy over the holiday weekend all agreed to disrupt and protest the hearing, sources tell me.’ And, subsequent, ‘Dem leader Chuck Schumer led a phone call, and committee members are executing now.’ So, I just want to be clear: none of the members on this committee participated in that phone call or that strategy before the documents were released yesterday? Are you suggesting that this allegation is false?”
Durbin asked to respond, but merely deflected to the issue of whether the committee had been provided enough documents on Kavanaugh: “Mr. Chairman, there was a phone conference yesterday, and I can tell you, at the time of the phone conference, many issues were raised. One of the issues was the fact that over 100,000 documents related to Judge Kavanaugh had been characterized by the chairman of the committee as committee confidential.”
Notably, Durbin did not dispute the allegations by NBC News.
Update: CBS News also confirmed NBC News’ reporting:
CBS News’ Nancy Cordes reports that a source familiar with the discussions confirms that Sen. Schumer held a conference call with Judiciary Committee democrats over the Labor Day weekend to discuss the strategy they are now deploying in a coordinated manner, interrupting the start of the hearing to call – one after the other – for a delay in the proceedings until senators get all the Kavanaugh documents they want and have time to read them.
The hearing eventually settled into opening statements, though protests continued.
Durbin later praised the protesters: “What we’ve heard is the noise of democracy.”