Menashi tangled with Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and Dick Durbin (Ill.) and GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and John Kennedy (La.), who at times appeared frustrated as they tried to get Menashi to discuss his legal thinking or his work on issues like immigration.
“You’re really a smart guy but I wish you would be more forthcoming. This isn’t supposed to be a game. We’re supposed to try to understand not how you’re going to rule but how you’re going to think,” he said.
Menashi also got pushback from Feinstein and Durbin when they tried to find out what immigration policies Menashi worked on in the White House counsel’s office. Menashi is a special assistant and senior associate counsel to the president.
“My role was to provide advice to policy advisers to the president. I did sometimes provide advice … on issues related to immigration, and he was a policy adviser to the president,” Menashi told Feinstein after she asked about his role in an immigration group and if the group was led by Stephen Miller.
Asked who else was in the group, Menashi said it wasn’t “appropriate … as an attorney here today to reveal the particulars.”
Feinstein argued that previous nominees were able to talk about their work in the White House. She specifically pointed to Gregory Katsas, a judge on the court of appeals for the D.C. circuit, who previously served in the White House counsel’s office.
Menashi noted that in Katsas’s case an agreement was reached on his testimony.
“I’m not asking you to talk about what you did, in terms of legal advice, but did you work on the topic? That’s all,” Graham said.
Menashi has sparked fierce backlash from Democrats and their outside group allies over his writings on the Muslim community and his work in the Trump administration. Protesters outside of the committee room could be heard as Menashi gave his opening statement.
“His confirmation to the federal judiciary would threaten the rights of millions of Americans, and we strongly urge our colleagues to oppose the Menashi nomination,” Schumer and Gillibrand said in a joint statement.