Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was grilled about his comments and writings on independent counsels.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) asked Kavanaugh about his comments in 1998 arguing that President’s should be able to fire independent prosecutors.
“A special prosecutor should be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Not by an isolated panel of judges. The prosecutor should be removable at will by the President,” Kavanaugh said at the time.
On Wednesday, Kavanaugh cautioned that the question could come in front of him in his current position as a D.C. appellate judge or if he is confirmed to the Supreme Court. He began to discuss precedent, and U.S. v. Nixon — where the Supreme Court ruled that President Nixon had to turn over certain documents subpoenaed by a special prosecutor — before Coons cut him off to push him to answer the question at hand.
“I think that all I can say, senator, is that was my view in 1998,” Kavanaugh finally said.
Kavanaugh argued that the comment and other statements Coons questioned him about pertained to the independent counsel statute that Congress allowed to expire in 1999. Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed under Justice Department regulations.
Coons also asked Kavanaugh about much more recent statements in which Kavanaugh expressed a desire to overturn a Supreme Court ruling upholding the independent counsel law. Coons suggested he wouldn’t be willing to hold a president accountable to the law, and asked Kavanaugh about a judicial opinion Kavanaugh wrote bashing the independent counsel law.
Kavanaugh said he was “overreading” the opinion and that he not taken a position on the constitutional questions Coons was raising about special counsels.