Trump's nominee hid behind tragedy to explain away his dangerous position that presidents shouldn't be investigated.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was pressed about his belief that sitting presidents should not be investigated, after arguing for the the intrusive and dogged investigation of President Bill Clinton — and he invoked 9/11 to excuse his flip-flop on the issue.
On the second day of Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) noted Kavanaugh's aggressive participation in the Kenneth Starr investigation — "I am strongly opposed to giving the President any 'break' in the questioning regarding the details of the Lewinsky relationship," Kavanaugh wrote at the time — and his subsequent change of heart where presidential investigations are concerned.
"You did not take the position that President Clinton was immune from investigation," Feinstein noted. "Since then, you have taken the opposite position. In fact, you have said that, and I quote, 'If the president were the sole subject of a criminal investigation, I would say no one should be investigating that at all.'"
Feinstein asked what Kavanaugh meant by that statement "and what are the circumstances where a sitting president could be subject to criminal investigation?"
Kavanaugh spent several minutes explaining his thinking during the Starr investigation, then explained his change of heart by invoking our nation's worst tragedy.
KAVANAUGH: What changed was September 11th. That's what changed. So, after September 11th, I thought very deeply about the presidency, and I thought very deeply about the independent counsel experience, and I thought very deeply about how those things interacting. And I thought very deeply about seeing President Bush, he came into the Oval Office on September 12th of 2001 in the morning President Bush said this will not happen again. This will not happen again. And he was up single-minded Focus every morning for the next 7 years for President Bush was still September 12th, 2001.
The matter of whether Kavanaugh believes a sitting president should be exempt from any investigations is critical given the current occupant of the White House. Issues related to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Trump could very well come before the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh's record when it comes to this issue is unclear. He advocated for the relentless investigation of President Clinton. But he has also called on Congress to exempt presidents from any investigations, writing that it would cripple the federal government" and prevent a president from being able to focus on the job of leading the country.
Kavanaugh failed to make clear whether he would apply his Clinton standard to Trump or his presidents-who-aren't-Clinton standard, should the matter come before him. And he shamelessly invoked and exploited a national tragedy to dodge the matter.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.