Supreme Court Nominations

Kavanaugh memo urged independent counsel Starr not to pursue Clinton indictment while in office

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President Donald Trump applauds after naming Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court nominee on July 9./The White House via Wikimedia Commons.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh once told independent counsel Ken Starr in a memo that he shouldn’t pursue an indictment of President Bill Clinton while he was in office.

The December 1998 memo was released Friday, the New York Times reports.

Kavanaugh had helped write Starr’s report arguing that Clinton could be impeached for lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky and obstructing justice. But Kavanaugh apparently believed that the president would not be removed from office, the 20-year-old memo indicates.

“After the Senate has concluded,” Kavanaugh wrote, “I would send a letter to the attorney general explaining that we believe an indictment should not be pursued while the president is in office.”

The Times says Kavanaugh’s view “is likely to be welcomed” by President Donald Trump, “who could find himself the subject of a similar debate” in a probe by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Kavanaugh had expressed a similar view in a 2009 article for the University of Minnesota Law Review. The article said Congress should pass laws to protect presidents from criminal and civil cases until they have left office.

In another memo, written in February 1999, Kavanaugh expressed regrets that the independent counsel’s office was being criticized for including details about Clinton’s sex acts with Lewinsky in its report to Congress. Kavanaugh had reportedly urged Starr not to include sexual details in the report.

Kavanaugh said Congress had released the entire report without reading it. The independent counsel’s office shouldn’t express regret over the contents of the report, Kavanaugh said, but the office could and should express regret over Congress’ handling of the referral.

“We can safely also express regret that we did not do more at the time to jump in front of the train and to try to prevent the House from immediately and publicly releasing all of the details,” he wrote.

See also:

ABA Journal: “Date announced for Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.”

ABA Journal: “Kavanaugh email shows offer to prepare ex-AG Ashcroft on attorney-client monitoring issue.”

ABA Journal: “ABA committee to evaluate Trump’s Supreme Court pick.”

ABA Journal: “Kavanaugh praised Rehnquist’s stand against unenumerated rights in Roe v. Wade dissent.”

ABA Journal: “Meet Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.”

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