- Some Senate Democrats say Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s past writings about how presidents should not be subject to “distracting” lawsuits is problematic as it relates to what might come out of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
- Kavanaugh previously wrote in a law review that President Bill Clinton would have been better served not having deal with the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.
WASHINGTON – A group of Senate Democrats want to know more about President Donald Trump’s new Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh, particularly regarding his previous writings on what types of legal scrutiny the commander in chief should be subject to as it relates to anything that might arise from the special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller.
In 2009, Kavanaugh wrote an article for the Minnesota Law Review describing his belief that US presidents should not be subject to certain probes and lawsuits.
“Having seen first-hand how complex and difficult that job is, I believe it vital that the President be able to focus on his never-ending tasks with as few distractions as possible,” he wrote. “The country wants the President to be ‘one of us’ who bears the same responsibilities of citizenship that all share. But I believe that the President should be excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship while serving in office.”
Kavanaugh mentioned that former President Bill Clinton would have had more free time to hunt down terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden if he had not been “distracted by the Paula Jones sexual harassment case and its criminal investigation offshoots.”
Kavanaugh also wrote that Congress should pass laws for safeguards against the distractions he previously mentioned.
“With that in mind, it would be appropriate for Congress to enact a statute providing that any personal civil suits against presidents, like certain members of the military, be deferred while the President is in office,” he wrote.
Democrats think Kavanaugh’s theory could be an obstacle in the Mueller investigation
Those writings from earlier in Kavanaugh’s career have irked a handful of Senate Democrats tasked with evaluating his qualifications for the Supreme Court.
“Five years ago, if you went back in time and gave this fact pattern to anybody: the president under investigation, over 70 charges, over 20-plus entities or individuals charged, you have five people plead guilty,” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker told Business Insider. “All this swirl going on, should a president be allowed to appoint somebody who’s already made it clear that he would give immunity to him should anything come before the Supreme Court. So this is a stunning thing to me that is so shocking that we’re going to have to allow this to happen.”
Others suggested Kavanaugh’s writings paired with Trump’s desire could be transactional in nature, despite any evidence.
“It’s especially a level of concern when he’s going to have a feeling of debt and gratitude to the president that just nominated him,” Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy told Business Insider. “Given how quick a case may come to the court regarding the Mueller investigation and the consequences of it, I’m very concerned about what he’s written.”
Even Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, mused about the idea that Trump could have chosen Kavanaugh because of his past remarks about presidents and lawsuits.
“I think a thing that concerns me from some of his writings that the president shouldn’t be distracted by criminal law or investigations of the president,” Leahy said. “If that’s the reason he was picked, that’s worrisome.”
Nevertheless, Republicans will trudge forward with Kavanaugh’s nomination. Republicans involved in the process do not see the 2009 article being an issue as top GOP brass galvanize support for his confirmation. But other obstacles, like how Kavanaugh might rule on certain social issues, will be a primary focus.