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Tipsheet

With Media Allies, White House Is Dismissing Criticisms of Judge Jackson's Record as ‘Disingenuous Attacks’

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The confirmation battle of sending Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court has certainly heated up. As Spencer highlighted on Thursday, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), who is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has called into question the nominee's troubling record when it comes to how he's "noticed an alarming pattern when it comes to Judge Jackson’s treatment of sex offenders, especially those preying on children." The senator laid out his in-depth findings in a lengthy Twitter thread and on Fox News' "Hannity." When it comes to the White House's response, though, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Friday framed Hawley's concerns as "disingenuous attacks."

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A reporter who brought up that Hawley's concerns had in part mentioned that "some Republicans still saying that she’s soft on crime." Psaki went even further when it comes to the partisan divide, referencing how "a group of far-right Republican senators, as you noted, have launched a last-ditch, eve-of-hearing desperation attack on her record on sentencing in sexual offense cases."

The reporter did not use the phrase "far-right Republican senators," though, only Psaki did. 

Psaki did expand further:

What is important here, I think, are the facts.  And the facts are that in the vast majority of cases involving child sex crimes broadly, the sentences Judge Jackson imposed were consistent with or above what the government or U.S. probation recommended.

And so this attack that we’ve seen over the last couple of days relies on factual inaccuracies and taking Judge Jackson’s record wildly out of context.  It dishonestly took a snippet of a transcript out of context, when in fact, Judge Jackson was repeating something a witness said in order to ask a question about their testimony.  It also admits that — omits that the Sentencing Commission Report mentioned was unanimously approved by the Commission and is by law — which is, by law, bipartisan with equal representation. 

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Such a response, though, does not address Hawley's demand that "the Sentencing Commission has refused to turn over all Judge Jackson’s records from her time there." Further, Hawley's findings are not merely about transcripts, but about sentencing, which he has indicated is less than the guidelines.

Psaki wrapped up her response to the question on Friday by mentioning that "we’re going to continue from here to reiterate what the actual facts are, and we hope that those who are taking this process seriously — or state that they are taking this process seriously — will also look to the facts and not disingenuous attacks." She did not answer a part of the reporter's question which asked "are you at all concerned that it might taint public view as we go into hearings next week."

Psaki isn't the only White House staffer though with such a low response. White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain smugly tweeted out a fact-check from The Washington Post, which gave Hawley "Three Pinocchios," which amounts to "mostly false."

Andrew Bates, the deputy press secretary, shared an article from Vox by Ian Millhiser, which claimed that "Josh Hawley’s latest attack on Ketanji Brown Jackson is genuinely nauseating."

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Millhiser not only concedes that Hawley is correct, but then argues that the guidelines are too tough:

So, while Hawley is technically telling the truth when he says that Jackson “deviated from the federal sentencing guidelines” when sentencing child pornography offenders, so do most federal judges. The consensus view within the judiciary and among sentencing policymakers is that the guidelines sentences for most child pornography offenders are too high, and judges routinely hand down lighter sentences for these offenders than the guidelines recommend.

He had made the same concession and argument earlier in the piece as well.

Perhaps the most outrageous take came from Ruth Marcus in her opinion piece for The Washington Post, where she writes that "How low will the GOP go in taking on Ketanji Brown Jackson? Josh Hawley lets us know." There are nearly 800 Twitter replies and the over 150 quoted retweets The Washington Post's tweet has gotten since being shared earlier on Saturday.

Many pointed to the treatment now Justice Brett Kavanaugh received during his confirmation hearing, as his personal life and character were maligned while he was accused of being a rapist.  

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Abigail Marone, Hawley's press secretary, has been up to the task when it comes to addressing how Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media take such issue with a senator who sits on the relevant committee raising questions about the nominee's record. 

Her Twitter feed has highlighted and responded to such hysteria as that from Marcus, as well as what CNN claimed was a fact-check, an article from Jacob Sullum for Reason, from Jennifer Bendery with HuffPo, and a temper tantrum from Media Matters over Hawley's appearance "Hannity."

A theme to these articles has been to argue that the sentencing guidelines for sexual predators who go after children are too harsh. 

Hawley himself also tweeted his response to WaPo in response to their fact-check, telling them "Now go ask the person nominated for the Supreme Court[.]"

Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (IL) doesn't seem to be taking the charges very seriously, either, with his comments inviting quite the response.

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Judge Jackson will go before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

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