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Starr Starr


Dylan Mattews’s fine Kavanaugh explainer has a good account of his history fighting Republican wars:

Eventually, Kavanaugh, and the rest of Starr’s team, moved on from the substance of the Whitewater real estate deal to the matter of Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. In his history of the investigation, The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr, Duquesne University’s Ken Gormley notes that Kavanaugh, “considered one of Starr’s intellectual heavy-lifters, pushed hardest to confront Clinton with some of the dirtiest facts linked to his sexual indiscretions with Lewinsky.” Gormley continues:

In a memo to “Judge Starr” (with a copy to “All Attorneys”), dated just two days before the grand jury showdown, Kavanaugh disclosed a stark division within [the Office of the Independent Counsel] over how to handle this slippery president. He wrote:

After reflecting this evening, I am strongly opposed to giving the President any “break” … unless before his questioning on Monday, he either i) resigns or ii) confesses perjury and issues a public apology to you. I have tried hard to bend over backwards and to be fair to him. … In the end, I am convinced that there really are [no reasonable defenses]. The idea of going easy on him at the questioning is thus abhorrent to me…

[T]he President has disgraced his Office, the legal system, and the American people by having sex with a 22-year-old intern and turning her life into a shambles — callous and disgusting behavior that has somehow gotten lost in the shuffle. He has committed perjury (at least) in the [Paula] Jones case. … He has tried to disgrace [Ken Starr] and this Office with a sustained propaganda campaign that would make Nixon blush.

Kavanaugh listed ten sample questions, however explicit and unsavory, that he believed Starr and his questioners should ask. They included the following:

…If Monica Lewinsky says that you ejaculated into her mouth on two occasions in the Oval Office area, would she be lying?

If Monica Lewinsky says that on several occasions you had her give [you] oral sex, made her stop, and then ejaculated into the sink in the bathroom off the Oval Office, would she be lying?

If Monica Lewinsky says that you masturbated into a trashcan in your secretary’s office, would she [be] lying?

Starr’s team didn’t ask those precise questions, but did ask similar ones (such as “If Monica Lewinsky says that you used a cigar as a sexual aid with her in the Oval Office area, would she be lying?”). Gormley writes that after Clinton’s testimony, “Brett Kavanaugh patted [Solomon] Wisenberg” — one of the Starr attorneys who questioned the president — “on the back and quietly congratulated him for asking the ‘sex questions.’” (That said, according to Bob Woodward’s book Shadow, Kavanaugh objected to the prurient tone of the Starr report, arguing that the level of sexual detail was not needed.)

After working with Starr, Kavanaugh continued to compile a legal record that would lead to Durbin’s description of him as “the Zelig or Forrest Gump of Republican politics. You show up at every scene of the crime … whether it is Elián González or the Starr Report, you are there.”

And indeed, Kavanaugh would represent the 6-year-old González pro bono in an attempt to keep him from being deported to Cuba in 2000. (González was eventually returned to his father in Cuba, where he still lives today.) Kavanaugh also worked on Bush’s legal team during the 2000 Florida recount, which resulted in Bush winning a party-line Supreme Court vote to install him in office.

And also:

I’m not sure I’m finding Akhil Amar’s 6-star review of Goddess in the Doorway entirely persuasive.

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