Brett Kavanaugh was not a fan of President Clinton. The U.S district court judge and prospective Supreme Court justice spent over three years working for Kenneth Starr, including the time the independent counsel was investigating Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky. When it came time in August 1998 for Kavanaugh to write a memo to his boss outlining how he believed Clinton should be questioned, he laid bare his feelings regarding the president’s indiscretions, suggesting a series of graphic questions picking apart the nature of the his relationship with Lewinksy. Though excerpts from the memo had previously been made available, the two-page document was not released in full until Monday.
The first three questions are harmless enough:
1. Did you tell Monica Lewinsky that she should deny the nature of the relationship that you and she had?
2. If Monica Lewinksy says that you agreed to lie about your relationship with her, would she be lying?
3. Would Monica Lewinsky be lying if she said that you told her after her name appeared on the witness list: “You could always say you were coming to see Betty or that you were bringing me letters”?
Then Kavanaugh puts his foot on the gas:
4. If Monica Lewinksy says you inserted a cigar into her vagina while you were in the Oval Office area, would she be lying?
5. If Monica Lewinksy says that you had phone sex with her on approximately 15 occasions, would she be lying?
6. If Monica Lewinksy says that on several occasions in the Oval Office area, you used your fingers to stimulate her vagina and bring her to orgasm, would she be lying?
7. If Monica Lewinksy says that she gave you oral sex on nine occasions in the Oval Office area, would she by lying?
8. If Monica Lewinsky says that you ejaculated into her mouth on two occasions in the Oval Office area, would she be lying?
9. If Monica Lewinksy says that on several occasions you had her give oral sex, made her stop, and then ejaculated into the sink in the bathroom off the Oval Office, would she be lying?
10. If Monica Lewinsky says that you masturbated into a trashcan in your secretary’s office, would she be lying?
Kavanaugh didn’t try to hide his motivations while attempting to justify this line of questioning. “It may not be our job to impose sanctions on him, but it is our job to make his pattern of revolting behavior clear — piece by painful piece,” he wrote. “Aren’t we failing to fulfill our duty to the American people if we willingly ‘conspire’ with the president in an effort to conceal the true nature of his acts?”
The questions seem to have served no purpose other than to fuel a partisan desire to further humiliate Clinton, as it’s hard to argue such graphic detail regarding his relationship with Lewinsky was relevant to the investigation. Robert Bittman, who worked on Starr’s prosecution team with Kavanaugh, told the New York Times earlier this month that Kavanaugh “immediately regretted the tone of that memo,” and that, according to Bittman, Kavanaugh “was sleep deprived and then quickly realized in retrospect that it was over the top.”
Kavanaugh is currently the subject of a fierce battle between Senate Democrats and Republicans, with the latter group rushing to confirm Kavanaugh before the November midterms. Because Kavanaugh’s legal record is so extensive, Democrats have argued that more time is needed to properly vet him. Despite delaying the confirmation hearing of Obama nominee Merrick Garland for eight months prior to the 2016 election, Republicans have been undeterred in their efforts to force a quick confirmation process. In an unprecedented move, they’ve blocked the release of hoards of relevant documents, specifically those from his time serving in George W. Bush’s White House. Earlier this month, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) announced that Kavanaugh’s hearing would begin September 4th. Democrats were not pleased.
Reminder: Republicans are still blocking the release of records from several years that Kavanaugh worked in the White House, a time in his career he described as “among the most instructive.”
Kavanaugh’s up for a lifetime appointment. Americans deserve to see those documents.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 15, 2018
One of the many issues of concern to Democrats is Kavanaugh’s stance on executive privilege. Though he argued in 1995 that a president would have to testify before a grand jury if subpoenaed, his views changed after serving in Bush’s White House. In 2009, he wrote that “the president should be excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship while serving in office” and “that a president who is concerned about an ongoing criminal investigation is almost inevitably going to do a worse job as president.”
Coincidentally, President Trump is currently under pressure to comply with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into his campaign’s relationship with Russia. Trump’s lawyers have said they would challenge a potential subpoena attempting to force the president to cooperate. If they do, it could be the Supreme Court that ultimately decides whether Trump has to testify.