Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Monday dismantled an ABC News reporter's attempt to paint him as a hypocrite for being concerned about Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson's record on child sex offenders.
But when the reporter was "pressed on the facts, they had nothing," Hawley's office noted.
What is the background?
The White House, Democrats, and media are fiercely pushing back against criticism Hawley has lodged against Jackson.
Last week, Hawley explained that he "noticed an alarming pattern when it comes to Judge Jackson’s treatment of sex offenders, especially those preying on children" after reviewing Jackson's record as a judge and policymaker.
Hawley's grievances are related to Jackson's record on offenders in child porn — not sexual assault or abuse. Jackson has voiced constitutional concerns for punishing offenders after they have completed their sentences.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded last week by saying that "attempts to smear or discredit [Jackson's] history and her work are not borne out in facts." Sen. Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called Hawley "wrong" and "inaccurate and unfair," while the Washington Post gave Hawley three Pinocchios for his claims.
What happened with Hawley?
While meeting with reporters Monday, Hawley faced questions from ABC News congressional correspondent Rachel Scott on why he allegedly supported judges in the past with a record similar to Jackson's on child offenders.
"How is it acceptable for a lower court, if it’s not acceptable for a higher court?" she asked.
Hawley noted that he was unsure to which judges Scott was referring and explained he has voted for only one Supreme Court nominee.
"We have looked through your record, and it shows that you have voted for at least three federal judges that have imposed lighter sanctions on child porn offenders, so how do you square that?" Scott followed up.
"Same answer — not for this court," Hawley shot. "And, I think this pattern is going to be a problem wherever I’m aware of it. In this instance, I know that’s a White House talking point, but I think it’s a dangerous one. You gotta be careful with that. It’s the old ‘Well, everyone else is jumping off a cliff, so I will too.'"
When Scott asked Hawley if he regrets the votes, Hawley pressed the reporter to explain which judges were allegedly soft on child offenders and in which cases they were lenient.
"I have not seen the White House’s talking points on this. But this is their new line," Hawley added.
Scott shot back that her allegations are "public information" and named Judge Joseph Bianco, who sits on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and Andrew Brasher, who sits on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Hawley repeatedly asked Scott what the cases were in which the judges were soft on child offenders, but Scott could not say.
"You voted for them," Scott said. "Shouldn’t you be familiar with their record, as well?"
"But what were the cases?" Hawley fired back. "You don’t know their record. So you haven't looked that up. What cases? Was it after their confirmation or before?"
"Do you expect me to just —" Scott said before she was interrupted.
"Well, I expect you to know the facts that you're asking me about," Hawley interjected. "So how many cases did they have? Judge Jackson had seven. I just listed them. So, what are the ones that these judges have?"
"So, you don’t know. You’re just here to do a 'gotcha,'" he continued as he began walking away. "When you know and get the facts, come back to me. Good luck!"