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Republicans accuse White House of hiding another Ketanji Brown Jackson child porn case from the record

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Senate Republicans are accusing the White House of trying to "cover up" Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson's record by "intentionally" leaving out a disturbing child porn case from materials supplied to the Judiciary Committee.

The White House has denied the allegation, saying that the case was mistakenly not included in a list compiling Jackson's sentencing in criminal child porn cases. Judge Jackson's apparent pattern of handing down sentences that were beneath the recommendations of prosecutors have become central to Republican attacks on the judge's record.

Fox News reported that the missing case, U.S. v. Cane, involved "over 6,500 files depicting children appearing to be of elementary, middle and high school ages, engaged in sexual acts or posing sexually." On May 19, 2021, Jackson sentenced the convicted defendant to the mandatory minimum 60 months in prison, but the probation office had asked for an 84-month sentence.

"Not only does this case, which Judge Jackson left off her list of child abuse cases, undercut her argument that she followed the probation office’s recommended sentences, but it also underscores the perils of moving too quickly in the vetting process," a Republican Judiciary Committee aide told Fox News.

The White House disputed the Republican allegations and defended Jackson. Deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said the Cane case was unintentionally left off a list comparing Jackson's sentences to the probation office recommendations in 14 child abuse cases, which the Judiciary Committee had requested. The case was forgotten because it happened near the end of Jackson's time on the D.C. District Court, the White House said. Bates also argued that the Cane case undercuts the Republicans' argument that Jackson is too soft on child porn offenders.

"This case, in which Judge Jackson sentenced the defendant to the term of imprisonment recommended by the government, proves to an even greater extent that in the large majority of her decisions involving child sex crimes, the sentences Judge Jackson imposed were either consistent with or above what the government or the U.S. Probation Office recommended," he said.

"The Cane case further undermines smears that a small number of Republican Senators have made – and which moderates members in both parties have rejected," he continued. "Fact checkers at multiple mainstream outlets have highlighted that the specific Senators who made these attacks have voted for Trump-nominated judges who sentenced defendants for the same crimes in the same way, both in terms of giving sentences below guidelines that are widely considered to be out of date across the judiciary and below timelines sought by the prosecution."

The White House added that Jackson's sentence in the Cane case was consistent with the 60-month sentence that prosecutors had asked for.

But Republicans are complaining that the sentencing transcript for this case was only delivered on Friday, after the confirmation hearings ended.

"Committee Republicans only just got the sentencing transcript for this case on Friday, after the hearing had ended," the Republican aide said. "Clearly, the White House either didn’t thoroughly vet the nominee, or were aware of the record and the intentionally left it out in hopes that the nominee would be confirmed before the full record could be uncovered and reviewed."

During Jackson's confirmation hearings, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and other Republicans repeatedly cross-examined the judge about her sentences in child porn cases. The Republicans said that Jackson had repeatedly handed down sentences that were lighter than the best publicly available benchmarks.

Democrats argued that Jackson's sentences were typically consistent with probation office recommendations and well within the mainstream of child porn sentences handed down by federal judges.

Speaking for herself, Jackson defended her record, saying she is "a judge who is a mom and has been tasked with responsibility and actually reviewed the evidence" in child porn cases and that it's "heinous. It is egregious." When Republicans brought up specific cases in which she handed down light sentences, such as one case in which she sentenced a child porn offender to only three months in prison, Jackson responded that there were mitigating circumstances that influenced her decisions.

On the third day of questioning, she told Sen. Hawley she had "regret" that "during a hearing about my qualifications to be a justice on the Supreme Court we've spent a lot of time focusing on this small subset of my sentences."

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