Lee said he found Menashi was not one of the more reluctant witnesses and did his best to answer questions.
"In some circumstances, he was advised that certain things were outside the scope of what would be appropriate testimony for him," Lee said. "I don't think he abused that. I'm quite confident he didn't."
The 2nd Circuit could play a critical role in litigation about Trump and the Trump administration. That appeals court last week denied the president's request to block a state grand jury subpoena to an accounting firm for financial and tax records, a ruling his lawyers are expected to appeal.
Menashi is among the top targets for progressive groups trying to derail Trump nominees to the federal bench for some of his past writings and work, and they plan to use his refusal to answer the Democratic letter about the whistleblower complaint as more ammunition.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has said she opposes Menashi's nomination. Republicans hold a 53-47 advantage in the Senate.
Demand Justice announced after the vote that it will run digital ads targeting seven Republican senators in their home states, "urging them to oppose his nomination because of his potential ties to the Ukraine scandal."
The ads ahead of the Senate floor vote will target Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Martha McSally of Arizona, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Joni Ernst of Iowa, the group said.
"Steven Menashi may have participated in the Ukraine cover-up, and now some Republicans want to promote him from covering for Trump in the White House to covering for him on the federal bench," Christopher Kang, Demand Justice's chief counsel, said in a statement. "With this confirmation vote, we'll see if Senators' allegiances lie with justice or with Donald Trump."
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