Nunes: Impeach Rosentein, Risk Kavanaugh

The Senate should “drop everything they’re doing…and start with impeachment” of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California), even it risks “not getting (Brett) Kavanaugh” confirmed.

Nunes is one of President Trump’s favorites for having used his chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee to run interference in the Russiagate investigations, to the point of issuing a widely-discredited and partisan report exonerating the president of any “collusion” with Russians.  It was not only denounced by committee Democrats but also by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee.

Nunes’ strategy, as revealed in a secretly recorded tape of him at a closed-door fundraiser, is getting rid of Rosenstein and replacing him with someone willing to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It is imperative to keep Republicans in control of Congress this fall to prevent Trump’s impeachment by Democrats, he explained.

“The Senate would have to drop everything they’re doing … and start with impeachment on Rosenstein. And then take the risk of not getting Kavanaugh confirmed,” Nunes said.

Trump no doubt appreciates the loyalty of his lapdog but he is banking on Kavanaugh blocking any attempt by Mueller to subpoena and question the president, whose story about what happened at his son’s meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 with Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton keeps changing.

Trump sees Kavanaugh as his “get out of jail free” card. Not because of the nominee’s views on abortion, immigration, religion or the other issues important to Trump’s base.  Those were already well known since everyone on the president’s short list of candidates had been vetted by the powerful conservative Federalist Society, of which the nominee was already a member.

The real reason Kavanaugh was picked by this totally self-absorbed president could be summed up in a single sentence in a speech the judge gave at Georgetown University Law Center in early 1998: “It makes no sense at all to have an independent counsel looking at the conduct of the president.”

The Weekly Standard, a conservative publication, said Kavanaugh is “outspoken” on “the need to protect a sitting president from indictment.” Trump prefers to pack the Court now rather than rely on the whims of voters in November.

Kavanaugh didn’t always feel that way.  Not in the 1990s when worked for special counsel Kenneth Starr on the investigations of Bill Clinton in the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky cases. Back then he was outspoken in his demands that every salacious detail of the Democratic president’s peccadillos be publicly laid bare for all to see.

He “pressed Mr. Starr to aggressively question Mr. Clinton on the details of his sexual relationship with Ms. Lewinsky“ the New York Times reported, and he subsequently “drafted the section of Mr. Starr’s report to the House that laid out 11 possible grounds for Mr. Clinton’s impeachment.”

When not investigating a Democratic president, he seemed to take a very different view.

Kavanaugh wrote in 2009 that he now believes it was “a mistake” that “the president should be required to shoulder the same obligations that we all carry.”  In other words, the president should be above the law. That’s what Trump wanted to hear.

Look for Democrats at his confirmation hearings to ask Kavanaugh to recuse himself from any case brought by the special counsel against Trump.  They are also likely to echo the views of most Jewish voters, who went three-to-one for Hillary Clinton.

As expected, the Republican Jewish Coalition enthusiastically endorsed Kavanaugh, praising Trump for “another great pick.”

Orthodox Jewish groups can be expected to be less outwardly fervent but similarly supportive in light of his past rulings and the administration’s positions on religious rights

The Jewish Democratic Council of America said Kavanaugh on the court “would directly threaten the values we hold dear as Jews,” including abortion, voting rights, church-state separation, social and economic justice and environmental protection.

Similar concerns were expressed by the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Reform Jewish Movement and Bend the Arc: Jewish Action.
President Trump may value the support of Nunes and the far-right Freedom Caucus in their zeal to impeach Rosenstein but it is unlikely to succeed, so he’s putting his money on Kavanaugh.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.