Bret Kavanaugh Is A First Rate Hypocrite and Political Judge

UNITED STATES - JULY 19: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, makes his way to a meeting with Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., in Hart Building on July 19, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 19: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, makes his way to a meeting with Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., in Hart Building on July 19, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Washington Post just published the full text of a memo Bret Kavanaugh wrote in August 1998 about questioning then-President Clinton as the country hurtled toward impeachment. Most attention will focus on the list of sexually explicit questions he suggested asking the president when he was interviewed by the Independent Counsel’s Office. You can see those here. To me though, those are not the most telling. It’s what comes before the sex questions.

Here’s the portion of the memo in which Kavanaugh argues against cutting President Clinton any “slack”.

This is clearly the voice of someone who simply hated President Clinton. That’s not terribly surprising. The Starr investigation was stocked with GOP partisans. It was a thoroughly corrupt operation. On other hand, this was twenty years ago. Kavanaugh was in his early 30s at the time. He’s in his early 50s now. To paraphrase the awkward exculpations of the late Henry Hyde, youthful indiscretions.

But that doesn’t add up. For his entire career as a DC lawyer, Kavanaugh has stood for maximal presidential power. This is not necessarily illegitimate in itself. There’s a range of opinion about the power that the President has vis a vis the other branches of the government. There is also a range of opinion about how much criminal prosecution is the answer to a law-breaking President as opposed to Congress and its impeachment power. But Kavanaugh has always been on the extreme side of presidential power.

Indeed, remember those comments that were reported last month, in which he said that U.S. v Nixon, the unanimously decided decision which forced Nixon to hand over his White House recordings may have been wrongly decided?

Well, those comments were published in early 1999, about a symposium that had happened a few months earlier. In other words, those comments in favor of maximal Presidential power were made almost contemporaneous with that memo, which he wrote in August 1998.

More recent comments in favor or extreme presidential power have been portrayed as a ‘change of heart’ for Kavanaugh. The evidence doesn’t back up that interpretation. For his whole career, Kavanaugh has believed in maximal presidential power. Unless it’s a Democrat, unless it’s a president he opposes.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Sincerely,
TPM Staff
Latest Edblog
  • |
    May 28, 2022 11:48 p.m.

    About a decade ago, more or less, I was talking to a quite right wing and very prominent conservative who…

  • |
    May 28, 2022 11:02 a.m.

    From TPM Reader MH … I think you are right about public opinion and guns but for the wrong reason….

  • |
    May 28, 2022 9:50 a.m.

    From TPM Reader DS … I want to share a story with you and then get to a specific point….

Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporters:
Newswriters:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: