Former Republican Senate aide Manny Miranda is firing back after Sen. Patrick Leahy questioned whether Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had any knowledge about a batch of Senate Democratic memos allegedly "stolen" in 2003 while he was a lawyer in the George W. Bush White House.
In a statement released Thursday, Miranda claimed Democratic memos were "negligently" put on a shared server roughly 16 years ago.
"I admit that we exploited this to learn simple things about their plans to attack Bush judicial nominees at the behest of the left wing interest groups," Miranda wrote, in part.
Leahy, D-Vt., asked Kavanaugh if Miranda sent him the documents via email on July 19, 2002, inquiring why Democrats were looking into financial ties between two special interest groups in regard to Priscilla Owen, a controversial nominee to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals at the time.
"Did Mr. Miranda send you an email asking you why the Leahy people were looking into her financial ties?" Leahy asked after someone handed Kavanaugh a copy of the years-old correspondence.
Seemingly confused, Kavanaugh asked, "Is that what this email is? Can I take a minute to read it?"
Leahy agreed and then explained the exchange occurred four days before Owen's confirmation hearing.
Kavanaugh pointed out he didn't send any emails on the chain, though he noted he was carbon-copied. Addressing Leahy, Kavanaugh said it wasn't "unusual" for a staffer to question what other party members are looking into ahead of judicial hearings.
"I don't really have a specific recollection of any of this," he added. "This happens all the time."
Leahy then pressed Kavanaugh about an unsigned letter drafted by himself and other Democrats included on the chain.
“You had the full text of my letter in your inbox before anything had been said about it publicly,” Leahy said. “Did you find it all unusual to receive a draft letter from Democratic senators to each other before any mention of it was made public?”
Kavanaugh said he didn't realize it was an unofficial letter.
"When you worked at the White House, did anyone ever tell you they had a mole that provided them with secret info?" Leahy then asked.
"I don't recall a reference to a 'mole,' which sounds highly specific," Kavanaugh replied, repeating it's "common" for colleagues to talk to each other and share information with fellow committee members.
Kavanaugh was questioned about the same incident during his 2006 confirmation hearing to become an appellate judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. His answer was similar to those he provided this week: he wasn't aware the memos were private.
Miranda emphasized Thursday that Kavanaugh was unaware of the original source of the documents, which he maintains were never "stolen," during that time period.
"In 2002 and 2003, I worked with Brett Kavanaugh and many other counsels to confirm the nominations of Bush judges who were being horribly obstructed. Brett Kavanaugh was intently ethical in all my experience with him. He has no worries now," Miranda wrote.
"Contrary, to the malign intent of Senators Leahy and Durbin at Senate Judiciary hearings, I can confirm that Brett Kavanaugh knew nothing of the source of any information that we obtained. Nor did I ever meet with him privately nor publicly to discuss it."
The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York investigated the matter and cleared Miranda of any wrongdoings, the former aide stated, adding he went on to serve as a U.S. diplomat in Iraq, receiving a full security clearance.