Senator Hawley calls out ABC News reporter for 'gotcha' question, repeating White House talking points

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Sen. Josh Hawley confronts ABC News reporter about getting Supreme Court talking points from the White House

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., gets into a back and forth with ABC News reporter Rachel Scott over his concerns with Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., had a contentious exchange with an ABC News reporter, during a break in Monday’s hearing on Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

The senator’s press office shared an audio recording of the encounter with Fox News Digital, in which ABC News congressional correspondent Rachel Scott grilled Hawley for questioning Jackson’s record. The senator accused Jackson of being too lenient in her sentencing on child pornography offenders. 

A few reporters and news outlets, who have adopted White House talking points, defended Jackson against Hawley’s criticism. Scott attempted to confront Hawley on his criticism. 

Judge Jackson and Sen. Hawley
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images | Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In the audio, you can hear ABC’s Scott question Hawley on why he had voted to confirm three lower court justices who had allegedly given below federal guidelines sentences for similar offenses. 

Hawley, who took office in January 2019, told the reporter he had only voted on one Supreme Court justice before this and denied he would knowingly vote for a judge who was soft on child pornography. The Missouri senator pushed back on the reporter’s line of questioning, saying this was a talking point straight from the Biden White House.

Hawley told Scott, “Not for this court. And I think pattern is going to be a problem, wherever I’m aware of it. In this instance, I know that’s the White House talking point, but I think it’s a dangerous one. You’ve got to be careful with that. It’s the whole, well, everybody else is jumping off a cliff, so I will too.”

As the reporter kept questioning whether Hawley regrets his prior votes, the senator pushed back, asking for more information.

“Well I’m not sure which judges you’re talking about, because I haven’t seen the White House’s talking points on this. I know this is their new line,” he quipped.

The ABC reporter bristled at this statement, saying it was “public information.” But when Hawley asked the Scott what the cases were, she could not answer the question.

Instead, she offered back, “Shouldn’t you be familiar with their record as well?”

As Hawley pressed again “which cases” she was referring to, the reporter was caught flat-footed. “You expect me just to…?” she questioned.

The senator recalled how he cited 7 cases in the hearing where Jackson was soft on child pornography. He told the ABC reporter to “come back” and talk to him when she had done more research.

“I expect you to know the facts, since you’re asking me about them. So, how many cases a day do you have? Judge Jackson has seven,” he told Scott. “You don’t know. You’re just here to do a gotcha. When you know and get the facts, come back. I’d be happy to talk to you about it. Good luck.”

Hawley’s press office touted the encounter as an example of the media attacking Republicans without getting their facts straight.

“When @HawleyMO asks the reporter which cases she’s specifically asking him about, she’s stunned. “Do you expect me to just…?” Yes. We expect you to know the facts of what you’re asking about. That’s common sense,” Hawley’s press secretary Abigail Marone wrote on Twitter.

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