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The Partisan

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, from left, Brett Kavanaugh, U.S. Supreme Court associate justice nominee for U.S. President Donald Trump, and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, stand during a meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 10, 2018. Senate Republicans are pledging a swift confirmation process that would put Kavanaugh on the bench before the new term opens Oct. 1, and there is little Democrats can do to stop them. Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Pool via Bloomberg

Brett Kavanaugh, who spent well more than six months on Ken Starr’s leaky boat, was a particularly aggressive inquisitor:

Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, urged prosecutors investigating President Bill Clinton to question him in graphic detail about his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern, according to a memorandum released on Monday by the National Archives.

Mr. Kavanaugh spent more than three years working for Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated a series of scandals during Mr. Clinton’s presidency, and he worked on the report that led the House of Representatives to impeach Mr. Clinton. Mr. Kavanaugh drew up the memo as other members of Mr. Starr’s team were preparing to question Mr. Clinton.

The memo, dated Aug. 15, 1998, was shot through with disgust for Mr. Clinton’s behavior and seemed animated by the deep animosity that had developed between the White House and Mr. Starr’s team.

The document betrayed deep hostility to Mr. Clinton, and it included 10 proposed questions about matters like oral sex and masturbation.

Former members of Mr. Starr’s team have said that Mr. Kavanaugh, who is now a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, immediately regretted its tone.

Yes that story about Kavanaugh's instant regrets seems highly plausible and not at all an opportunistic mop-up job.

Anyway, Kavaugh’s views on executive power have been consistently and predictably malleable:

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.

The kabuki where every Republican senator argues that Kavanaugh has never had a political thought in his life and his jurisprudence will be the neutral application of technical legal principles, and the media pretends to take it seriously, will be particularly irritating.

Speaking of which, Ken Starr, ladies and gentlemen:

“The mandate that Bob Mueller received has some broad language, including ‘related-to’ type of language, which tends to open the door, but there are some checks and balances,” Starr continued to say, “We don’t want investigators and prosecutors out on a fishing expedition.”

Yes, Mueller should remain strictly confined to Putin’s involvement in an obscure Arkansas land deal.

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