Updated at 4:30 p.m.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) renewed his call today to postpone the confirmation hearing for federal appellate nominee Goodwin Liu, citing another discovery of information that Liu did not include in materials he sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sessions, the committee’s top Republican, said his staff has found nine additional speaking events that Liu did not list in response to a committee questionnaire. Liu has supplemented his original answers four times and apologized to senators for being incomplete, but Sessions said his staff this week found faculty colloquia and other previously undisclosed engagements.
"I think it was sloppy presentation," Sessions said in a meeting with reporters.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Justice Department, which helps vet judicial nominees, had no comment on the nine additional events.
Liu’s confirmation hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday. Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has declined to postpone it, noting that it has been postponed twice before, and a Leahy spokeswoman reiterated late Thursday that the hearing will go on as scheduled. Other Democrats have said that nominees of President George W. Bush disclosed far less without senators objecting.
The debate over Liu, nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, flared up earlier today at a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee. During the meeting, Sessions attributed the omissions to Liu’s background as a law professor and associate dean at the University of California, Berkeley.
“If you had a federal judge or a United States magistrate or a practicing attorney, and they get a questionnaire like this, they don’t play around with it,” Sessions said. Liu, he added, “has never tried a case, and he apparently is cavalier” about answering the questionnaire.
Liu was an associate in the Washington office of O’Melveny & Myers before going into academia. In response to part of the questionnaire (PDF) that asked him to list the 10 most significant matters he has litigated, Liu did not describe trying any cases. Most of the work he listed consisted of contributing to appellate briefs. He assisted, among others, Walter Dellinger III, the former acting solicitor general who heads O’Melveny’s appellate practice, and Ronald Klain, then an O’Melveny partner and now chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden.
Sessions even compared Liu’s omissions to the federal criminal law against making false statements, because nominees must swear to their answers to the questionnaire. “This is a certification that [the answers are] true and correct and that is witnessed by a notary public,” he said.
Democrats defended Liu, saying his omissions were no worse than those of some Republican nominees. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) noted that the Reagan Library, late in the confirmation process for Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., provided 50,000 pages of records.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that Liu has been more open than at least three successful Republican circuit nominees: Brett Kavanaugh for the D.C. Circuit, Michael McConnell for the 10th Circuit, and Jeffrey Sutton for the 6th Circuit. McConnell, she said, did not list a single speech on his questionnaire, though he had been an academic for 16 years. “He got confirmed. It was not an issue,” Feinstein said.
Sessions said Liu’s omissions are different: “I don’t think there was discovered the kind of product that Professor Liu failed to disclose.”