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Chairman Dick Durbin Claims Republican Members Asking for Reports Amounts to a 'Fishing Expedition'

AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool

These Democrat-run hearings to potentially send Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court are something else. It's not just that Democrats have forgotten how they've treated now Justice Brett Kavanaugh while they go after Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) for daring to address Judge Jackson's record on sentencing sex offenders who prey on children, though that's certainly continued to be an issue. Concerningly, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who is chairing these hearings, has not been forthcoming about handing over the records to Republican members.  

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Durbin did make some thoughtful points about the innocent victims whose names appear in the pre-sentencing reports that Republican members are asking for. He also politicized the request, though. "I would suggest that the information contained in these reports is dangerous, dangerous to the victims, and to the innocent people who are mentioned in these reports, and unnecessary at this point." Durbin went on to vent about how "it's never been requested by this committee, and it's merely a fishing expedition in dangerous territory," with an edge in his voice. 

As the chairman continued about "classified settings, redacted versions of the reports" and how "this has never happened in the history of this committee," Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) could be heard trying to say something. Durbin still continued on. "And I would say, senator, I will just tell you, I am not going to be party to turning over this information and endangering the life of an innocent person," Durbin emphasized, "for a political quest to find more information. We have exhausted this topic. We've gone through it over and over again. And I think that this is a bridge too far for this committee. That is my personal feeling."

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In a separate clip, Durbin also offered "I would just suggest we ought to think long and hard, my friends, about members of the judiciary committee endangering the lives of innocent people to pursue this line of questioning. We spent two days, 15, 16, 17, 18 hours, and a large part of it on this issue. Durbin also said "I don't believe these pre-sentencing reports are gonna change anyone's disposition if they're going to vote on this issue," as if that were the point to senators requesting information, or a reason to deny them said information. 

"I do not want it weighing on my conscience that I gave the green light to release this information so that it might endanger the lives of innocent victims. I'm sorry. That is a bridge too far for me," Durbin went on to emphasize.

Law professor Jonathan Turley, who has been tweeting about the hearings, weighed in with a thread about Durbin's point. While he understood Durbin's point about how it affects victims, Turley stressed that the reports could be redacted.

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Durbin, however, had referenced and seemed to take issue with Republican senators receiving even redacted versions of reports, as one can see in his response to Sen. Lee. 

Further, Durbin had also raised concerns while questions over Judge Jackson's record were actually going on, in that he didn't let the nominee answer questions from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

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Katie covered on Monday, ahead of opening statements from senators, Durbin's refusal to hand over documents to Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, citing Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Grassley also brought up, as Spencer covered earlier on Wednesday, that some Republican members believe that information they're requesting was not only withheld from them but leaked to mainstream media allies of the Democrats and shared with Democratic members.

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