Paul pledges 'an open mind' toward Kavanaugh

Paul pledges 'an open mind' toward Kavanaugh
© Greg Nash

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSunday shows preview: Trump readies for meeting with Putin McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 GOP moderates hint at smooth confirmation ahead for Kavanaugh MORE (R-Ky.), a critic of many Bush-era policies and a potential obstacle to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, says he will keep an “open mind” and decide how to vote after reviewing Kavanaugh’s record.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKavanaugh gets questionnaires for confirmation hearing Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick Franken offers Dems a line of questioning for Kavanaugh's 'weirdly specific bit of bulls---' MORE (R-Ky.) had advised President TrumpDonald John TrumpReporters defend CNN's Acosta after White House says he 'disrespected' Trump with question Security costs of Trump visit to Scotland sparks outrage among Scottish citizens Ex-CIA officer: Prosecution of Russians indicted for DNC hack 'ain't ever going to happen' MORE to consider nominating someone other than Kavanaugh in part because of concerns about how Paul, his fellow Kentuckian, might vote.

Paul in a statement Monday evening released shortly after Trump announced his pick said he would scrutinize Kavanaugh’s record closely.

Kavanaugh is closely associated with the George W. Bush administration, for which he served as staff secretary before winning Senate confirmation to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006.

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Republicans effectively control 50 Senate seats — because Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate Dems tell Trump: Don't meet with Putin one-on-one McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 Overnight Defense: Fears rise over Trump-Putin summit | McCain presses Trump to hold Putin 'accountable' for hacking | Pentagon does damage control after NATO meet MORE (R-Ariz.) is away from Washington stricken with brain cancer — while Democrats control 49.

If Democrats maintain total unity, a single GOP defection could be enough to sink Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Paul, a prominent libertarian, has criticized Bush-era policies such as warrantless surveillance.

He threatened to filibuster a long-term extension of a program allowing intelligence agencies to collect data on targets without a warrant.

He has also criticized the Bush administration’s use of harsh interrogation tactics such as waterboarding, and on those grounds he opposed Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel to serve as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Kavanaugh denied any involvement in crafting legal policy allowing for harsh interrogation tactics during the Senate’s consideration of his nomination to the D.C. Circuit in 2005 and 2006.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that McConnell advised Trump that Kavanaugh would be tougher to get through the Senate than other potential nominees such as Raymond Kethledge or Thomas Hardiman.

The Times also reported that McConnell did not “want to draw the ire” of Paul over Kavanaugh’s role in crafting Bush-era policies.