Virtual Anxiety: Klobuchar Rejects Use Of Virtual Testimony For Barrett Hearing Because There Is “No Back and Forth”

It seems as if people have gone virtually insane in this election year over remote testimony.  We recently discussed the absurd excuse cited by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe that he would not appear for testimony to answer questions about his alleged misconduct in the Russian investigation due to fears for his health. He then however refused to appear virtually despite the earlier remote testimony of his former superiors James Comey and Sally Yates. Now, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), who once enthusiastically supported the use of “hybrid hearings,” has declared that remote testimony is entirely unacceptable because there is no ability to have exchanges with witnesses in a virtual space.  The objection to the use of a hybrid hearing for Barrett is now part of a wider campaign, but it is based on a clearly false premise. While such bizarre statements would have once risked being called a lunatic or a Luddite, it has produced little media scrutiny or commentary.

In speaking with Chris Wallace, Klobuchar rejected the use of remote testimony as completely unacceptable.  Wallace however noted that Klobuchar previously praised the use of such hearings. On May 6th, she sat for a remote confirmation hearing of Judge Justin Walker for the D.C. Appeals Circuit and thanked Chairman Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) for allowing the members to appear remotely.

Wallace reasonably asked if Klobuchar was now attacking the use of a hybrid hearing “to try to block a nomination that you frankly oppose fiercely.”

Klobuchar replied:

“Absolutely not. This is for the highest court of the land. And, yes we have had virtual hearings. I helped to put them together. It’s important to give senators that option. But you want to be able to go back and forth with this nominee.”

Wallace delicately pointed out that he and the senator were going back and forth remotely without any difficulty in that very interview.  Klobuchar then appeared to get tangled up in her narrative:

“Again, we believe you should have an in-person hearing. That doesn’t mean the virtual option wouldn’t be available, but why would you ram — I guess I’d turn the question around here, even though you get to ask the questions — Why would you ram this through when we don’t even have a COVID package done to make sure that people have health care.”

So you can have a hybrid hearing?

There is of course no difference in the “back and forth” of in-person as opposed to virtual testimony.  I have testified over 50 times in Congress and there is generally no interaction with the witness beyond the questions and answers. While some members will shake hands with a witness, even that practice would likely be curtailed in a live appearance during the pandemic.

There is a good faith objection that the Republicans have reversed their position with Merritt Garland on this nomination — just as there is a legitimate objection that Democrats like Klobuchar have reversed their prior positions from 2016. However, the objection that remote testimony does not allow exchanges with witnesses is obviously absurd.

Nevertheless, the Democrats now appear to be paraphrasing Woody Allen’s rule in arguing that “Eighty percent of [politics] is just showing up.”

Update: The President just said that he also has problems with virtual space in declaring that he would not “waste my time” in participating in the announced virtual debate with Biden. While one can question the necessity of this precaution, it is hard to see how a virtual debate for a presidential election would be a waste of time. It certainly would be of value to voters.

36 thoughts on “Virtual Anxiety: Klobuchar Rejects Use Of Virtual Testimony For Barrett Hearing Because There Is “No Back and Forth””

  1. Interesting (and justifiable) typo on Judge Merrick Garland’s name: “There is a good faith objection that the Republicans have reversed their position with Merritt Garland on this nomination ….”

  2. Jonathan: Trying to divert attention away from Trump’s refusal to agree to a second “virtual” debate to focus on Senator Amy Klobuchar is another example of your magician’s slight of hand–misdirection. You say about the debate commission’s decision to change the format: “…one can question the necessity of this precaution”. It seems you may also be in denial. Trump just got out of Walter Reed and is still contagious. I don’t know about you but I would not want to be on the same stage with Trump in his condition. Changing to a virtual debate, out of an abundance of caution, was prudent. But the real reason Trump doesn’t like the revised format for the second debate is revealed in this statement: “You sit behind a computer and do a debate. It’s ridiculous and they cut you off whenever they want”. Trump doesn’t like to be cut off– ever—even when he exceeds the allotted time as he did often at the first debate. In that debate Trump shouted over the moderator, interrupted Biden 70 times and continued to shout even when told his time was up. In addition, Trump doesn’t like the “Town Hall” format where he would have to answer questions from voters on the pandemic and the economy. The optics would be terrible if he ignored a question or interrupted a questioner to change the subject as he often does at his press conferences. Now you would think in his contagious condition Trump would not want to expose others to the coronavirus. But Trump doesn’t think like us. He only thinks about himself. Just ask Melania and all the other people surrounding Trump that have become infected.

    At the debate between Kamala Harris and Pence the VP, to his credit, complimented Harris on her successful career. Trump ruined that one laudatory moment by now calling Harris “unlikable”, a “monster” and a “Communist”. Trump’s sexist and delusional claims will no doubt not play well with women voters. It seems Trump can’t resist shooting himself in the foot. Maybe the coronavirus has also affected his brain!

  3. Agree on virtual testimony. Virtually no difference with the ability for Q&A as compared to in-person.

    On the point of Merrick Garland and Amy Coney Barrett, I believe there is a continuity here that is being overlooked. Garland’s nomination by Obama didn’t make it to the senate floor because of representative democracy. Barrett’s nomination by Trump will make it to the senate floor because of representative democracy. Obama started his presidency with 57 fairly predictable votes – 55 democrat and 2 other. Obama ended his presidency with 44 democrats in the senate. The 2 other were there as well. It could be said the American electorate turned against Obama by the end of his presidency. That could be held as evidence that the electorate by extension was unwilling to let Obama replace an open SCOTUS seat.

    At the time I would have preferred Garland’s nomination received a hearing.

  4. Skip the committee. They interviewed her 3 years ago. Send it right to the floor.

  5. Please let Trump talk, put him in a glass case if they have too. But please, let him talk and babble and drool and foam at the mouth. Because if Trump is talking, the more the American people see he is mentally unwell and a national embarrassment.

    1. Nice projection Fishy. Just because you’re allowed to talk and babble and drool and foam at the mouth, doesn’t mean everyone else is mentally unwell. You are an international embarrassment. So there’s that.

      1. Olly’s atrocious judgement of what a US.President should be, tells everything you need to know about Olly. So there’s that.

  6. Agreed with you on virtual testimony, Turley.

    Having said that, I understand everything democrats may do to slow down the SCOTUS nomination debacle gig nap. The hypocrisy is real and you’re dancing hard not to address it.

  7. Klobuchar not wanting virtual, Biden wanting virtual it’s all predictable. The Democrats will continue to create issues as long as they can’t get what they want. One thing I have to give them they don’t care what they do or how they do it to get their own way. As long as they’re not held accountable they will break rules, regulations, laws, whatever.

  8. What Trump doesn’t want, given the accusations, is for Biden to answer virtual questions with the help of an off camera teleprompter or wireless piece.

  9. The GOP needs to stop surrendering to Democrat obstruction of this type. But I think we all know better than to expect that to happen. GOP is the party of capitulation.

  10. Professor Turley, you cannot compare the Barrett nomination to the Garland nomination. The Republicans currently control the White House and the Senate. In Garland’s case, a Democrat President nominated a liberal judge to replace Scalia, but the Republicans controlled the Senate. And why don’t you opine on which party (Democrats) has been the bully in confirmation hearings (e.g. Bork, Miers, Thomas, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh), and it’s just as bad if you review how the Democrats reacted to Republican Circuit Court nominations (e.g. Estrada, etc.)

  11. I watched three political debates this week and everyone appeared in-person, including the leader of the free world.

  12. Turley, the pathetic shill is attracted to these minor shortcomings that can be found on either side, like the fly to Pence’s hair. Let’s focus on the lies and other machinations on the Trump side; far more serious. Turley the shill and bushwhacker.

    1. Biden could debate himself because he’s been for and against every issue from one day to the next, depends who he’s trying to B.S.

    2. Let’s focus on the lies and other machinations on the Trump side; far more serious.

      Is there anything more serious than an opposition candidate and her party colluding with a known Russian agent to inject disinformation about her opponent to influence our electoral process? If it was worth putting this country through hell for 4 years to hold people accountable for that allegation against President Trump and his campaign, then clearly it’s just as important to focus on where the facts and evidence lead us. Which reminds me:

      First, apologize to President Trump and the American people for supporting the Democrat/Russia collusion coup. Then and only then should we move on to your next disastrous, false allegation. We may even find a moment for this bs.

  13. Election commission announces second presidential debate will be virtual? “No Back and Forth”? Commission did not contact either campaign prior to the announcement. Must protect Joe Biden at all costs.

    1. ‘Protect Joe Biden?’ If you mean, give him the opportunity to answer questions and keep him out of harm’s way of the obese, orange, sack of pestilence, yup, virtual is the answer.

      1. Very mature comment, IBK. You provide a great example of a Biden supporter.

  14. “It seems like people have gone virtually insane in this election year over remote testimony.”
    Not all people, just the Dims. Perennial losers get that way.

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