The Buzz

Hawley calls Kavanaugh hearing a ‘circus,’ won’t criticize Trump’s Sessions tweet

US. Sen. Claire McCaskill talks with Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley in 2017.
US. Sen. Claire McCaskill talks with Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley in 2017. AP

Missouri’s top law enforcement official, state Attorney General Josh Hawley, avoided rebuking President Donald Trump Tuesday over a tweet that accused U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions of endangering Republican Congressional seats by indicting two of Trump’s earliest supporters.

Trump said the seats were “two easy wins now in doubt” because of the investigations.

“Good job, Jeff,” he posted on Twitter.

The tweet appears to put political pressure from the White House on the U.S. Department of Justice to act according to Trump’s will rather than independently.

Hawley, a Republican Senate candidate backed by Trump, said laws should be applied uniformly, but stopped short of speaking to the Trump tweet directly.

“I can’t speak to those investigations. I’m not familiar with the details of them,” Hawley said at a campaign stop in Blue Springs. “Obviously, I would say ... that the rule of law needs to be applied fairly and equally, and that’s what we’ve tried to do in this state as attorney general — that’s what I’ve tried to do.”

Hawley’s opponent, incumbent Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill, called the tweet “outrageous” in a statement.

“As a former prosecutor, I find it outrageous and scary that the president would think that the Department of Justice should consider party politics when conducting an investigation. Prosecutors should follow the facts wherever they lead without fear of political interference,” McCaskill said.

Trump faced bipartisan criticism over the tweet.

At the same stop, Hawley called for civility as the U.S. Senate considers confirming Trump’s appointment for the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. He called disruptions in a Tuesday confirmation hearing and fiery comments by senators a “three-ring circus” and lamented the “embarrassing spectacle.”

Hawley accused senators of trying to “shout down one another” and “acting like children.”

“This kind of behavior in the United States Senate has just got to stop,” Hawley said. “Judge Kavanaugh is eminently qualified. He should be confirmed.”

McCaskill criticized chaos resulting from protests in the Senate hearing.

“This should be a serious hearing, and I thought all the protests distracted from that goal,” McCaskill said in a statement.

Hawley took the opportunity to keep pressure on McCaskill to vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

“Sen. McCaskill ought to stand up right now and condemn this juvenile behavior,” Hawley said. “She ought to call on Chuck Schumer to stop these antics and call on her fellow senators to stop these antics. Give Judge Kavanaugh a fair hearing, a civil hearing and then vote yes.”

McCaskill met with Kavanaugh last month ahead of his confirmation hearing and said she welcomed the opportunity to speak with him on a variety of issues and looked forward to hearing more during his confirmation hearing. She has not announced a decision to vote for or against his confirmation.

Democrats opposed to Kavanaugh’s nomination tried to put a stop to confirmation hearings over documents about his past service that have been withheld by Trump’s White House and more than 40,000 pages released Monday night that senators haven’t been able to review.

McCaskill said senators should have an opportunity to review those documents, but Hawley called the concern “just another excuse to stall,” noting Kavanaugh’s previous public opinions.

“His views as a judge are hardly a mystery. He’s been on the bench for quite some time now,” Hawley said. “This is why I say Sen. McCaskill ought to condemn the clown show that was going on in the United States Senate earlier with this circus.”