Supreme Court Nominations

Focus returns to Kavanaugh's work for Starr, as judge orders release of report on media leaks

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Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh/The White House via Wikimedia Commons.

Brett Kavanaugh’s work for independent counsel Ken Starr is in the news this week as the U.S. Supreme Court nominee paid courtesy visits to senators who will consider his confirmation.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered the National Archives to release a 1999 report by a court-appointed special master who investigated grand jury leaks in Starr’s Whitewater investigation of President Bill Clinton, report CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Democrats and the liberal group seeking the report, American Oversight, had hoped the report could provide insight into Kavanaugh’s work for Starr.

But the report released on Thursday did not mention Kavanaugh, the National Law Journal reports. The report concluded that the unnamed sources cited in news stories could have been lawyers for targets or witnesses.

Kavanaugh has previously said in his Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire that he had spoken to reporters about the investigation “on background as appropriate or as directed.”

Another aspect of Kavanaugh’s work was in the news Monday when the National Archives released a 1998 memo in which Kavanaugh suggested 10 sexually explicit questions for President Clinton. The Times and the Post have reports.

Among the questions: “If Monica Lewinsky says that you inserted a cigar into her vagina while you were in the Oval Office area, would she be lying?”

According to the Times, Kavanaugh’s memo “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 president has disgraced his office, the legal system and the American people, ” Kavanaugh wrote, “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.”

Kavanaugh spent Thursday morning meeting with Democratic senators, even as Democrats sought to delay confirmation hearings scheduled to begin Sept. 4, the Post reports.

Democrats want more time to obtain documents covering the 35 months that Kavanaugh served as staff secretary to President George W. Bush.

Fix the Court, a watchdog organization, has obtained some documents from that time period as a result of a lawsuit obtained under the Freedom of Information Act with the help of American Oversight, according to a press release. One document shows Kavanaugh worked on talking points about the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.

On Tuesday, Kavanaugh met with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, an abortion rights supporter whose vote may be key to confirmation. Collins said that Kavanaugh told her he believed that Roe v. Wade is “settled law,” the Times reports.

But Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he asked Kavanaugh whether he believed Roe v. Wade was correctly decided, and Kavanaugh refused to answer.

“Everything the Supreme Court decides is settled law until it unsettles it,” Schumer told reporters. “Saying a case is settled law is not the same thing as saying a case was correctly decided.”

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