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Intense exchange with Sen. Kamala Harris on Mueller probe leaves Kavanaugh flustered

The Supreme Court nominee stumbled during Kamala Harris' intense 8-minute inquiry.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh struggled to answer questions from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) during the second day of his confirmation hearing. Harris had asked Kavanaugh whether he had ever discussed the ongoing Mueller probe with President Trump's former lawyer or anyone at the attorney's firm.  (Photo credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh struggled to answer questions from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) during the second day of his confirmation hearing. Harris had asked Kavanaugh whether he had ever discussed the ongoing Mueller probe with President Trump's former lawyer or anyone at the attorney's firm. (Photo credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh appeared flustered by a series of questions from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) Wednesday night regarding any conversations he may have had with President Trump’s former outside counsel about the ongoing Russia investigation.

“Have you ever discussed Special Counsel [Robert] Mueller or his investigation with anyone?” Harris asked.

Kavanaugh appeared confused. “Well, it’s in the news everyday. With other judges,” he responded.

Harris pressed further, asking whether he had specifically discussed Mueller or his investigation with anyone from Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, the law firm of President Trump’s former outside counsel, Marc Kasowitz, who resigned in July 2017. “Be sure about your answer, sir,” she said.

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Once again, Kavanaugh seemed flustered. After pausing and repeating the name to himself, he responded, “I’m not remembering, but if you have something you wanna… is there a person you’re talking about?”

“I’m asking you a very direct question,” Harris said. “Yes or no?”

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

“I don’t think you need to, I think you need to know who you talked with,” Harris responded. “Who’d you talk to? … I think you’re thinking of someone and you don’t want to tell us.”

The exchange lasted nearly eight minutes and was interrupted only by shouts from protesters and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who confronted Harris about her line of questioning and asked that she provide Kavanaugh with a list of staffers from the firm.

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“Law firms abound in this town, and there are a lot of them — they’re constantly metastasizing,” he said. “…There is no possible way we can expect this witness to know who populates an entire firm.”

Throughout the remainder of the exchange, Kavanaugh appeared to dance around the question, doing his best not to confront the question directly. Eventually, Harris gave up.

“I’ll move on,” she said. “Clearly you’re not going to answer the question.”

It’s unclear whether Harris had more information on the subject or knew of any specific conversations between Kavanaugh and Kasowitz or someone from his firm. Politico reported Thursday that the firm has around 250 employees.

Harris said Wednesday she would produce a list of follow-up questions for Kavanaugh on the matter, which are due to the committee on Monday, the outlet noted.

Kasowitz has served as Trump’s personal lawyer on a case by case basis for more than 15 years, and previously acted as the president’s outside counsel during the 2016 election, after he was accused by several women of sexual assault and harassment. Most recently, he served as Trump’s personal lawyer on the Russia investigation, and resigned in July 2017 after questions about his ability to obtain a security clearance, and following a ProPublica report detailing allegations that he had personally been behind the president’s sudden decision to fire Preet Bharara, who had been told he could stay on as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

“This guy is going to get you,” Kasowitz reportedly told Trump at one point, referring to Bharara.

In the past, Kasowitz has criticized the investigation, slamming former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired in May 2017, admittedly over Comey’s investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. In a confidential memo sent to Mueller in June 2017, the existence of which was initially reported in July this year by the Associated Press, Kasowitz called Comey “Machiavellian” and said he had been motivated only by “political self-interest.”

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A New York Times report in January this year also revealed Kasowitz was acting as Trump’s personal lawyer when Trump threatened to fire Mueller in June 2017. Trump reportedly ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to carry out the order, but backed down after McGahn threatened to quit.