Senate Republicans “Collude” With Right Wing Groups to Attack Sotomayor

Just yesterday, I wrote a post about how Manuel Miranda went form an obscure Senate aide to a right-wing judicial confirmation warrior after losing his job on the Hill due to the fact that he had been regularly obtaining internal Democratic documents and sharing them with right-wing groups:

From the fall of 2001 until January 2003, when Miranda left the Judiciary Committee to work for Senator Frist, he and Lundell downloaded several thousand internal Democratic documents and possibly shared them with other Republican staffers and the media. Miranda repeatedly requested files from Lundell even after he began working for Frist and thus no longer had access to the Judiciary Committee’s server. At one point Miranda even asked Lundell to “undertake a discreet mission” to gather documents and provide them to Sean Rushton, Executive Director of the Committee for Justice, so that he could build up a relationship with the press. Lundell replied that he would be “happy to assist in this covert action” and subsequently e-mailed Rushton 169 documents. Lundell and others speculated that Miranda himself also turned over documents to Rushton and others but Miranda denies this and it is impossible to know the truth as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, the Committee for Justice and the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary all refused to cooperate with Mr. Pickle’s investigation. Despite this lack of cooperation, the Pickle Report does note that when the files showed up on the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary’s website, one of the documents contained a directory path that forensic review determined came from “an e-mail from a web page that was viewed and printed by Mr. Miranda with Internet Explorer.”

The irony, of course, is that Miranda defended his behavior by claiming that he was merely a “whistleblower” who was trying to expose the Senate Democrats’ “collusion” with outside interest groups … and chose to do so by obtaining and sending internal Democratic memos to right-wing interest groups. 

Which brings us to this article in The Hill today about how Senate Republicans are trying to appear moderate and fair-minded regarding the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor while privately telling right-wing interest groups to dig up whatever they can on her and keep up their harsh attacks, though they are now trying to deny it:

In public, Senate Republicans have kept their distance from conservative attacks on Sonia Sotomayor — but behind the scenes, they have encouraged activists to keep their crosshairs trained on the Supreme Court nominee.

Lanier Swann, an aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), told a private meeting of conservative activists Wednesday to keep up their pressure on Sotomayor.

“Swann told us she wanted to encourage all of us in our talking points and that we’re having traction among Republicans and unnerving Democrats,” said an attendee of Wednesday’s weekly meeting hosted by Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform.

“The point was we should keep it up,” said the source. “She told us at this meeting to put our foot on the pedal.”

A second source who attended the meeting confirmed the account. Both sources requested anonymity because it was a private meeting.

Swann declined to respond to the characterization of her comments by other people present at the meeting because the discussion was supposed to remain private.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, said Swann would not encourage the groups to attack the nominee.

“I’m at a bit of a disadvantage here. Those meetings are off the record, so Lanier won’t respond on it, though I’m sure she wouldn’t be calling for attacks,” Stewart said.

Norquist, who spoke to The Hill late Wednesday at the request of McConnell’s office, said that Swann was encouraging conservatives to keep up their fire on the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, not Sotomayor.

“It was all about how Gitmo is getting incredible traction and was separate from her coversation about how pleasant the Supreme Court nominee was when she visited [McConnell’s] office,” Norquist said.

But two sources who attended the meeting said that explanation was absurd and insisted there was no doubt that Swann was encouraging conservatives to continue their harsh criticisms of the nominee.

I wonder if Miranda was in attendance for this meeting – the article doesn’t say.

Who knows – maybe he was one of the article’s unnamed sources and just felt obligated to speak out about the meeting because, as he claims, its his duty to “expose corruption wherever [it is] discovered.”