Appellate court nominee Goodwin Liu writes in a new letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he mistakenly omitted scores of materials from a background questionnaire, and he apologized to senators for not being complete in his initial response.
The letter, dated Monday, is rare for a nominee both in the scope of its disclosure and in its offer of a personal apology. Liu, nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, also detailed for senators the database searches he used to answer the questionnaire.
Republicans reacted to the omissions today with outrage, requesting that the committee’s chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), delay a planned April 16 hearing on Liu’s nomination. Last month, they criticized Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. for omitting materials during his confirmation process.
Monday’s letter (PDF, Page 84) is the fourth time Liu has supplemented his nomination materials since he initially submitted them in late February. In the latest correspondence, he writes that he missed some public appearances that he should have known about initially and that he did not think to include appearances at such occasions as brown bag lunches and alumni gatherings.
“In preparing my original submission, I made a good faith effort to track down all of my publications and speeches over the years. I checked my personal calendar, I performed a variety of electronic searches, and I searched my memory to produce the original list. But I have since realized that those efforts were not sufficient,” Liu writes.
Liu, a law professor and associate dean at the University of California at Berkeley, adds that “none of the omissions in my original submission was intentional…. Moreover, I believe it is in my own interest to make the most complete disclosure I possibly can.”
In describing the process he used to answer the questionnaire, Liu lists 36 Web sites that he searched, including those of O’Melveny & Myers, where he was an associate, and Nixon Peabody, where he worked on contract. He searched Lexis Nexis, Google, and YouTube.
Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, led by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), write in a letter (PDF) to Leahy today that Liu’s disclosure “essentially amounts to a new Questionnaire.” Their staff needs more time to review the materials, the senators write, and Liu’s omissions place his nomination “in jeopardy.”
“These glaring omissions were provided only after Committee staff continued to locate other additional items not disclosed by the nominee,” they write. “At best, this nominee’s extraordinary disregard for the Committee’s constitutional role demonstrates incompetence; at worst, it creates the impression that he knowingly attempted to hide his most controversial work from the Committee.”
The planned hearing April 16 is the third date Democrats have tried for Liu’s confirmation hearing. It was postponed twice.
A Democratic aide notes that some previous nominees have given far less detail about their public appearances than Liu has. For example, 6th Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton, appointed by President George W. Bush, wrote to senators that “I have given numerous speeches to local bar associations, Ohio judges (through the Ohio Judicial College), The Federalist Society, and Continuing Legal Education seminars” where he “spoke from informal notes or spoke extemporaneously.” (Click here (PDF) and go to Page 4.)