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May 13, 2005

Harry Reid Smears Judicial Nominee With FBI-File Insinuation

Imagine if a Republican did this.

Harry Reid seems to have broken Senate rules by alluding to a confidential FBI file on Bush nominee on the Senate floor:

Minority Leader Harry Reid strayed from his prepared remarks on the Senate floor yesterday and promised to continue opposing one of President Bush's judicial nominees based on "a problem" he said is in the nominee's "confidential report from the FBI."

Those highly confidential reports are filed on all judicial nominees, and severe sanctions apply to anyone who discloses their contents. Less clear is whether a senator could face sanctions for characterizing the content of such files.

"Henry Saad would have been filibustered anyway," Mr. Reid said on the floor yesterday, about the Michigan Appeals Court judge who is nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

"All you need to do is have a member go upstairs and look at his confidential report from the FBI, and I think we would all agree that there is a problem there," Mr. Reid continued.

...

"Can you think of a better way to trash someone's reputation?" Sean Rushton of the conservative Committee for Justice asked after seeing a transcript of the remarks. "Say that there is bad stuff from an FBI investigation in a file somewhere and leave that hanging. This is character assassination of the lowest order and completely improper."

...

Republican aides pointed to Standing Rule of the Senate 29, Section 5: "Any Senator, officer, or employee of the Senate who shall disclose the secret or confidential business or proceedings of the Senate, including the business and proceedings of the committees, subcommittees, and offices of the Senate, shall be liable, if a Senator, to suffer expulsion from the body; and if an officer or employee, to dismissal from the service of the Senate, and to punishment for contempt."

Furthermore, a "Memorandum of Understanding" covering the use of FBI background reports limits access to committee members and the nominee's home-state senators. Mr. Reid would fall into neither category.

And of course such smears work; now I'm wondering what's in that file, and wondering if Reid has good reason to oppose Saad. Despite the fact that there's nothing at all on the record to suggest he should not be confirmed.

Reid can't be held legally accountable for any of this, as the Constitution immunizes Congressmen from legal consequences from any statement made in Congress. But I'd sure like someone to bait Reid into repeating his remarks outside of Congress.

It's time to go nuclear. I know nothing about Saad, and of course I know even less about what dirt the FBI may have dug up on him, but it is clear that the Democrats have made the judiciary their last redoubt. It's well past time to drain that swamp.

PoliPundit's Smoking But Not Quite on Fire Yet Update: Lorie wants to know: what's in Ted Kennedy's FBI file, and why doesn't someone allude to that on the Senate floor?


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posted by Ace at 10:48 AM

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