Former Bush lawyer debunks latest right-wing attack on Liu

››› ››› ADAM SHAH

Conservative media figures have seized on the fact that federal appeals court nominee Goodwin Liu submitted additional responses to his Senate questionnaire to attack Liu's character and fitness for the bench. However, Richard Painter, former Bush administration assistant White House counsel, has debunked the charge that Liu acted in bad faith and urged that "[r]ather than posturing over yet one more 'missing documents' episode in Washington, the Senate should perhaps look at this nomination on the merits and vote."

Right-wing media baselessly attack Liu's honesty over supplemental responses to Senate questionnaire

NRO's Whelan claimed Liu has made "remarkable and inexplicable omissions" in his questionnaire. In a post on the National Review Online blog, Bench Memos, contributor Ed Whelan wrote:

A follow-up to my documenting of the remarkable and inexplicable omissions from Ninth Circuit nominee Goodwin Liu's response to the Senate questionnaire:

Today, Liu submitted to the Senate his fourth supplement of his Senate questionnaire response. Specifically, Liu submitted a cover letter, a revised complete response to Question 12 of the Senate questionnaire (which covers published writings and public statements), and a separate 14-page list of "all items in the revised Question 12 answer ... that were not included in prior submissions."


In his cover letter, Liu offers his "sincere and humblest apology for the omissions in my original submission" and acknowledges the obvious fact that his initial efforts "were not sufficient." He also offers his assurance, "as forthrightly as I can, that none of the omissions in my original submission was intentional."

Liu's professed contrition and assurance would be more convincing if Liu were to volunteer that it makes no sense at this point, when there are so many new materials to review and when it's far from clear that everything has been provided, to go ahead with the renoticed date for his hearing -- next Friday, April 16.

NRO's Foster claimed Liu "withholds info" from Senate. On NRO blog, The Corner, the headline on a post by contributor Daniel Foster about a letter criticizing Liu's supplemental questionnaire responses read: "Appeals Court Nominee Withholds Info from Senate."

Malkin alleged that Liu seems to have "a curious case of selective amnesia." In a post titled, "Goodwin Liu's sins of omissions," Michelle Malkin wrote:

Believe it or not, I had a cordial dinner once with Goodwin Liu, years and years ago in Washington, D.C. As far as I could tell, his memory back then was in good working order. But now that the radical left-wing law professor has been nominated to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Liu seems to be suffering from a curious case of selective amnesia.

GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, blows the whistle on the 117 "extraordinary" omissions from Liu's required committee questionnaire. (Funny how "forgetful" Obama's greatest legal minds seem to be.) Liu's hearing is currently scheduled for April 16. Says Sessions: "At best, this nominee's extraordinary disregard for the Committee's constitutional role demonstrates incompetence; at worst, it creates the impression that he knowingly attempted to hide his most controversial work from the Committee.

Bill Hemmer, Byron York speculate about whether Liu was "trying to hide something" from Senate. On the April 7 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer quoted from a letter by Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans to committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), saying: "This is what Republicans are saying in part in their letter. They say: 'At best, this nominee's extraordinary disregard for the committee's constitutional role demonstrates incompetence; at worst,' it continues, 'it creates the impression that he knowingly attempted to hide his most controversial work from the committee.' " Hemmer continued: "I think that's the rub right there. Did he do it knowingly? Did he do it to hide something that would have been a red flag?" York later stated: "It's the number of speeches and writings that he has not included that has made a number of Republicans suspect that he is trying to hide something."

Ace of Spades suggested Liu was attempting to "just blow off the Senate Judiciary Committee." In a post titled, "Goodwin Liu 'Forgets' To Include His Most Controversial Work on Senate Questionnaire," on right-wing blog Ace of Spades, contributor Gabriel Malor wrote:

Wow, does Professor Liu think his confirmation is such a foregone conclusion that he can just blow off the Senate Judiciary Committee? Or is he stupid enough to think that, even after his reparations coments [sic], Republicans wouldn't be scouring his record for more unacceptable leftism?

Former Bush lawyer debunks attacks over questionnaire

Painter: Liu's initial responses appear to be "good faith effort" to answer questionnaire. In a blog post responding to the criticism over Liu's supplementary responses, University of Minnesota law professor Richard Painter, a former assistant White House counsel during the Bush administration, wrote: "Professor Liu also apparently does not have a photographic memory. It appears to me, however, that his original answers to the questions were a careful and good faith effort to supply the Senate with the information it needed to assess his nomination."

Painter: Liu has "provided a lot more information than many nominees do." Painter continued: "He provided a lot more information than many nominees do in response to these questions. He has now provided the additional information the Senate wants. I doubt the Senators will learn anything new from it."

Painter, who worked with numerous Bush nominees, said "[s]ome nominees don't remember everything they have ever said." Painter also wrote:

I worked with a lot of President Bush's nominees for the executive branch, with three Supreme Court nominees and some nominees to the courts of appeals. The Senate questionnaires are lengthy and ask for just about everything. Some nominees don't remember everything they have ever said or where they said it.

Painter urges Senate to "look at [Liu] nomination on the merits and vote." Painter concluded his post by saying: "Rather than posturing over yet one more 'missing documents' episode in Washington, the Senate should perhaps look at this nomination on the merits and vote."

Bush judicial nominees acknowledged they were not providing Senate with information on all their speeches. Jeffrey Sutton, one of President Bush's nominees for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit listed eight articles and one "speech and handout" on his questionnaire. He then stated:

I have given numerous speeches to local bar associations, Ohio judges (through the Ohio Judicial College), The Federalist Society, and Continuing Legal Education seminars regarding the United States Supreme Court and the Ohio Supreme Court. In each of these instances, I either spoke from informal notes or spoke extemporaneously.

Brett Kavanaugh, a Bush nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, listed 22 speeches on his questionnaire but prefaced his list with the following statement:

I have given remarks on occasion in official and personal capacities. These remarks have most often occurred at legal conferences and on panels. I also have guest-taught classes at various law schools. In the White House Counsel's office, I also spoke to visitors to the White House and on Capitol Hill. I generally have spoken with short written points, which I have not ordinarily retained, rather than prepared speeches. I also have not maintained an ongoing list of remarks, but I have attempted to reconstruct a responsive list for this purpose. I will supplement the list if I become aware of other speeches that fit within this question.

Additional information pertaining to John Roberts released on eve of his hearing. About 10 days before John Roberts' Supreme Court nomination hearing, the National Archives announced: "The Ronald Reagan Library and the National Archives and Records Administration will open approximately 18,000 pages of materials from the White House Office of Records Management Subject case files at the Library. This is the material referred to in the National Archives press release of August 30, 2005 under the heading 'Reagan Library Discovers Additional Roberts Records.' " The next day, the National Archives released another 1,328 pages.

This is latest in a series of baseless right-wing media attacks on Liu

Media distorted Liu comments about slavery to claim he "believes in reparations." The conservative media have repeatedly claimed or suggested that Liu, in the words of Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, "believes in reparations." In fact, in the discussion to which these media figures point, rather than advocating for "reparations," Liu said that "instead of looking for the single national strategy" on racial equality, people should "think about what you can do on a much smaller scale in much smaller communities, around specific problems that people face, whether it's in their schools, in their workplaces, access to health care, in their housing -- whatever it may be."

Examiner columnist falsely portrayed Liu as "against private ownership of property." Washington Examiner columnist Theodore H. Frank distorted a column Liu wrote to claim Liu is "disqualif[ied]" from serving as a federal appeals court judge because he purportedly spoke "against private ownership of property." In fact, Liu merely identified the term "private ownership of property" as used by an organization Roberts was affiliated with in the past, as indicative of "an ideological agenda hostile to environmental, workplace, and consumer protections."

Media launched dishonest attack over Liu's qualifications. The Washington Times claimed Liu "doesn't meet the ordinary standards for federal judges outlined by the American Bar Association"; Fox News host Sean Hannity launched a similar attack a day later. However, neither the Times nor Hannity noted that the American Bar Association found Liu to be "well-qualified" by unanimous vote, the highest possible rating.

Liu has support from across political spectrum

Liu has support from conservatives including Ken Starr and John Yoo. John Yoo -- who as a member of the Bush Justice Department authored the infamous "torture memos" finding that the use of enhanced interrogation techniques did not violate U.S. law -- and Goldwater Institute director Clint Bolick have vouched for Liu. Bolick wrote: "Having reviewed several of his academic writings, I find Prof. Liu to exhibit fresh, independent thinking and intellectual honesty. He clearly possesses the scholarly credentials and experience to serve with distinction on this important court." And according to the Los Angeles Times, Yoo said of Liu: "[H]e's not someone a Republican president would pick, but for a Democratic nominee, he's a very good choice." Liu has also reportedly received the support of James Guthrie, education policy studies director at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.

Former independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who investigated President Bill Clinton, co-signed a March 19 letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that read: "[I]t is our privilege to speak to his qualifications and character, and to urge favorable action on his nomination." The letter continued: "Goodwin is a person of great intellect, accomplishment, and integrity, and he is exceptionally well-qualified to serve on the court of appeals."

Fox's Kelly: Judicial nominee Liu's "qualifications are unassailable." In addition, during an appearance on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, guest host Megyn Kelly stated that Liu's "qualifications are unassailable."

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