Kavanaugh May Shield Trump From Mueller's Probe, Democrats Say

(Bloomberg) -- Senate Democrats trying to rally opposition to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are portraying him as a potential threat to the Russia investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that of the 25 names on President Donald Trump’s list of possible high court nominees, “he chose the candidate who he thought would best protect him from the Mueller investigation.” The Senate shouldn’t consider Kavanaugh until the nominee “specifically commits to recuse himself” from any criminal investigations concerning the president, Senator Richard Blumenthal said.

The Democrats’ argument stems from a 2009 law review article written by Kavanaugh, who said Congress might want to enact a law to defer “any personal civil suits against presidents” as well as “criminal investigations and prosecutions” until they leave office. He didn’t assert in the article that courts already had the power to grant such delays.

He wrote that his views were shaped by his work for independent counsel Kenneth Starr, when he helped write a report recommending grounds for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, and his later service in the White House under President George W. Bush.

‘Swing Vote’

Kavanaugh’s nomination comes as Trump’s lawyers are resisting pressure to be interviewed by Mueller, who’s investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, whether anyone close to Trump colluded in the meddling and whether Trump sought to obstruct the probe.

In addition, Blumenthal contended that “Judge Kavanaugh, if he is a justice, would be the swing vote” in deciding if Trump could eventually pardon himself. He said “that’s the accountability that will be lost if Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed.”

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said judges probably shouldn’t face recusal just because Trump picked them.

“It makes perfect sense to me that Jeff Sessions can’t oversee an investigation of the campaign he was part of,” Graham said of the attorney general in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But I wouldn’t have a broad rule that you can’t, you know, review anything against President Trump because he chose you.”

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