What to Know
- Brett Kavanaugh worked on Independent Counsel Ken Starr's team investigating President Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky affair
- Kavanaugh advised Starr and others not to give Clinton "any break" during questioning
- He suggested 10 questions for Clinton that go into vivid detail about sexual acts and how often they occurred
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh suggested that attorneys preparing to question President Bill Clinton in 1998 seek graphic details about the president's sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
The questions are part of a two-page memo in which Kavanaugh advised Independent Counsel Ken Starr and others not to give the president "any break" during upcoming questioning unless he resigned, confessed perjury or issued a public apology to Starr.
He suggested Clinton be asked whether he had phone sex with Lewinsky and whether he engaged in other specific sexual acts that he vividly described.
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Kavanaugh worked on Starr's team investigating Clinton. He said it may not be "our job to impose sanctions on him, but it is our job to make his pattern of revolting behavior clear — piece by painful piece."
The memo was released Monday by the National Archives and Records Administration as lawmakers seek more details about Kavanaugh's credentials to serve on the nation's highest court.
In the subject line, Kavanaugh asks, "Slack for the President?"
Kavanaugh goes on to answer the question with a resounding no.
He said he had tried to bend over backward to be fair to Clinton and to think of reasonable defenses for his behavior, but in the end, became convinced there were none. "The idea of going easy on him at the questioning is thus abhorrent to me," Kavanaugh wrote.
He also accused Clinton of committing perjury, turning the Secret Service upside-down, and trying to disgrace Starr and the independent counsel's office with "a sustained propaganda campaign that would make Nixon blush."
Kavanaugh in the memo states, "The 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."
The release from the Archives comes before confirmation hearings for Kavanaugh, scheduled for the week after Labor Day. Kavanaugh has been making courtesy calls to senators and met Monday for about an hour with the senior Democratic member of the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hopes to have Kavanaugh confirmed to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy before the new court session begins Oct. 1.
After leaving Starr's investigative team, Kavanaugh went on to serve in the administration of President George W. Bush and as a circuit court judge. He's reflected on various occasions about investigations involving a sitting president. He wrote in a 2009 Minnesota Law Review article that it would be appropriate for Congress to enact a statute that would allow civil lawsuits against a sitting president to be deferred until the president's term ends. He said Congress should consider doing the same with "respect to criminal investigations and prosecutions of the President."
Democrats have asserted that Trump chose Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court because he would protect him from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.
Kavanaugh's August 1998 memo to Starr and his legal team is dated two days before the president gave grand jury testimony via closed-circuit television from the White House concerning his relationship with Lewinsky. Kavanaugh said he was mindful of the need to respect the office of the president. But he said the full facts should be gathered "so that the Congress can decide whether the interests of the Presidency would be best served by having a new President."
Otherwise, he asked, "Aren't we failing to fulfill our duty to the American people if we willingly 'conspire' with the President in an effort to conceal the true nature of his acts?"
He went on to suggest 10 questions for Clinton that go into vivid detail about sexual acts, how often they occurred and whether Lewinksy would be lying if she had recounted those actions. "I leave the best phrasing to others," he said. Clinton was impeached in a post-election session of the House, was acquitted in the Senate and remained in office.