President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee criticized Congress in 2000 for ceding its “constitutional duty” to investigate the president to an independent counsel, Politico reports.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh commented on former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial during a discussion at Duke University in 2000, which was partially recorded on video and obtained by New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker’s office, which shared it with Politico. Kavanaugh, who served on Kenneth Starr’s staff during the investigation, knocked Congress for waiting until Starr finished his probe before starting their own, “in abdication of their constitutional duty,” to investigate the president.
“In the old days, if you had a serious allegation against the president — and there was a common understanding that the president could not be indicted while he was in office — the Congress of the United States would look into the allegation immediately and would get the facts. They can depose witnesses and find out the truth,” Kavanaugh can be heard saying.
“I tend to think it has to be the Congress,” he said at the time. In 1998, he wrote in an article for Georgetown Law Journal, “The Constitution itself seems to dictate, in addition, that congressional investigation must take place in lieu of criminal investigation when the President is the subject of investigation.”
Kavanaugh also wrote an article published in 2009 that suggested Congress weigh “exempting a president — while in office — from criminal prosecution and investigation.”
Booker told Politico in a statement that the judge’s “statements here are yet another indication that his views this matter in constitutional terms, and not just as a policy preference.
“This raises the troubling question of whether President Trump chose him exactly because he holds these beliefs. If he’s confirmed, Judge Kavanaugh’s views on this issue could affect the outcome of any potential Supreme Court cases that may arise from the ongoing special counsel investigation.”
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