Friday, November 12, 2004

So if Alberto Gonzales becomes attorney general, who might replace him as White House counsel? In The New York Times, Elizabeth Bumiller and Neil Lewis come up with a name:

Several Republicans said no decision had been made on filling Mr. Gonzales's position as White House counsel, although Brett M. Kavanaugh, a former associate counsel who has since been promoted to staff secretary to the president, is a strong candidate. Two officials said Mr. Kavanaugh had won Mr. Bush's confidence. "The president thinks he's great," said one Republican familiar with the White House operations. "He trusts him and really likes having him around to rely on."

Er, Brett Kavanaugh? Where have I heard that name before? Oh, yeah...

The legal fight after Vincent Foster's suicide? Kavanaugh led it.

The Starr report on Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky? Kavanaugh co-wrote it.

President Bush's order limiting the release of presidential papers? Kavanaugh drafted it.

The probe of Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich? Kavanaugh was in the thick of it.

The hotly contested judicial nominations of Priscilla Owens and Miguel Estrada? Kavanaugh coordinated them.

Indeed, for the past eight years, Kavanaugh, 37, has had a hand in virtually every high-profile legal battle involving presidential power.

That's from a Washington Post article. With regard to the Starr Report, the Post assures us that Kavanaugh wrote "the legal piece, not the explicit narrative" -- the part called the "Grounds." However, Jeffrey Toobin, in his book A Vast Conspiracy, notes this:

Though Starr originally envisioned the Grounds as a sort of legal brief for impeachment, it wound up with even more sexually explicit detail than the Narrative. The Grounds was principally the work of Brett Kavanaugh, a lawyer from Kirkland & Ellis and a former Supreme Court law clerk, who was perhaps the most favored of Starr's young male proteges. In one amazing stretch of the Grounds, Kavanaugh cited Lewinsky's sex deposition in thirty-four consecutive footnotes, and he included some material that even the Narrative's authors judged too viciously unnecessary to mention. For example, after the description of the December 31, 1995, tryst, Kavanaugh's team dropped the following deadpan footnote: "After the sexual encounter, she saw the President masturbate in the bathroom near the sink." Such details had no conceivable relevance to Congress's duty, but were rather designed to humiliate Clinton.

"The president thinks he's great." Lovely.

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